Here’s part 2 of my NHS 111 extravaganza – check out part 1 here.
So why was it abolished? Primarily, a Department of Health report said that there was confusion around which NHS service to use and that one three digit number for triaging non-emergencies might help solve this. This I can completely understand. An ideal world would be I ring up 111 and I’m told exactly what I should do with this cough I’ve been having. That service should know what services are available in my area, have a good knowledge of clinical problems to send me to the correct service and, most of all, not result in me dying due to poor advice. Frankly, that doesn’t sound too hard, or even too dissimilar to what NHS Direct was. For those Labour fans out there, they even mentioned it in their 2010 manifesto.
Realistically, what the report recommended could have been implemented by changing 08454647 (NHS Direct’s old number) to 111. In fact, that is what the Conservatives said they would do. Until they stopped saying that and changed their minds. Now I’m not an expert, but how many times do you have to ‘change your mind’ before it becomes apparent that your minds haven’t changed and what you said originally was just a big pile of horse dung?
Instead of simply phoning up Vodafone and asking for their SIM card to have its number changed, Andrew (I’ve Tried Nothing and I’m All Out of Ideas) Lansley, and his successor, Jeremy (I’m A) Hunt completely overhauled the way telephone triage services were done in the NHS, essentially phasing out NHS Direct, and letting private companies pick up the slack. These include Harmoni, a company previously criticised for being unsafe at running GP out-of-hour practises. You’ll glad to know they run 8 NHS 111 services across clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), including most of London. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure that Westminster is in one of the few bits of London covered by a not-for-profit scheme, though I’ll have to look into that.
NB: I used Vodafone as an example due to the fact that they diverted some of the tax-dodging gains through to me. I also rode a flying pig to work at the magic bean factory. No, I actually used them as they run part of the 111 telephone network and suffered a huge technical fault last November. To their credit, they seemed to respond OK-ish and it hasn’t happened since
Click here for Part 3.