Sunday, 29 August 2010

Over and out for helpline

Although it has been de rigueur in recent weeks to question ConDem commitment to the form and spirit of devolved services, expectations are that criticism from Labour in Wales about government plans to scrap the NHS Direct helpline in England will be unusually muted.
Assembly chiefs are known to be deeply unsatisfied with their own call centre service which has consistently proved to be an expensive and irrelevant flop.
Despite several re-launches and marketing ploys, A&E departments throughout Welsh hospitals have yet to record any sort of decline in non-emergency arrivals. This is attributed in part to anecdotal reports of patients arriving at emergency rooms with minor ailments after being told by NHS Direct staff that it is the quickest way to receive treatment.
The view among officials is that ministers in Cardiff Bay will quietly close down the service before the end of the year and replace it with a national version of the 101 non-emergency number currently being piloted in Cardiff.

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