Plans Announced for NHS Direct Replacement

Representatives from the NHS have been describing their plans for a new telephone service to replace NHS Direct.

NHS 111 is a new national advice line for patients with ailments that are not serious enough to require a 999 call. The service will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It’s already been piloted during 2010 in County Durham and Darlington, Nottingham City, Lincolnshire and Luton and will be rolled out across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in 2013.

Zoe Howard from the NHS told Councillors that the specific needs of the Isles of Scilly will be taken into account, although she couldn’t provide further details as the service is still being specified.

Councillor Dudley Mumford asked whether there would be further consultation on the service later in the year, but was told by Zoe that the specification “had been set.”

Rachel Crawley of the NHS said a directory of local services on the islands was being put together and any telephone operator would know whom to contact if someone had a health issue.

Penny Penn Howard pressed Rachel on how the operators will get their information, particularly about the unique situation of the islands.

She said there could be a time when someone on St Martin’s rings the helpline with chest pains in a gale force 8 storm. Unless the operator understands the situation, she says, there could be “some crazy conversations going on.”

Zoe admitted that the situation was different on the islands but part of the tendering process would be for bidders to show how they could cope in that setting.

Carol Clarke, from LINk, said any case coming in from the islands should generate a flag on the system that says “seek guidance.”

Dudley said at the moment, people tend to ring the out-of-hours service at the healthcentre.

He added he thought people “would like a local solution as much as possible.”