The bungled announcement last week of the demise of NHS Direct has prompted the following statement from Nick Chapman, its Chief Executive.
“I expect that you will have read or seen the media coverage over the Bank holiday weekend about NHS Direct. I wanted to write promptly to you to correct any misleading impression that this may have created that NHS Direct as an organisation is being closed down. This is not what the Government has said, nor is it their intention.
“The Government has confirmed that the 0845 46 47 telephone service we are commissioned to provide will be phased out as the new NHS 111 service is developed and rolled out nationally. This is no surprise as it was included in the White Paper in June. We are fully supportive of the new 111 telephone number, and the plan for the 111 service to be thoroughly integrated into local health communities with a more integrated urgent and out of hours response. We have been working with the Department of Health on the 111 programme since 2009, and we are working with the Department and local health communities involved in all three of the “Pathfinder” schemes that are testing how 111 can work best. The new service will build on and develop the service that NHS Direct currently provides. Decisions on how the new NHS 111 service will be commissioned and how it will be provided in the future have yet to be made. [Editorial emphasis. I interpret this as civil servant-speak for “We are worried about the future and haven’t a clue what will happen”. Ed. Steve.]
“In the meantime, NHS Direct will continue with the business of offering advice and guidance to patients, via the ‘core’ 0845 46 47 service, and providing other local and national telephone and web-based services on behalf of our commissioners. There will be no disruption to any of these services, and we will ensure above all that there is continuity of service to patients.”