Monday, April 03, 2006
"Symbol Of Modern Healthcare" Joins ShowBiz
NHS Direct was one of Tony's pet projects. When he launched it eight years ago, he told us this nurse-led call centre service was "a symbol of modern health care". We didn't quite understand what he meant at the time, but we do now. As anyone who's ever used "NHS Redirect" will testify, it's virtually useless, generally scaring patients half to death before finally advising them to see a Doctor asap (see here for Tyler's own representative experience, and the robust Doc Crippen for an informed view on "nurse-led" services in general).
NHS Direct costs £150m pa to run, and as the National Audit Office found, it saves less than half that by screening out minor complaints like it was meant to. The rest is a net addition to NHS costs.
Now under pressure from the NHS cuts, the whole thing may be downsized drastically. A third of the workforce is to be axed, and many of the 54 call centres closed.
Well, you say, better late than never. Tony may have wasted another billion pounds and flip-flopped to buggery and back, but at least he's finally seen sense.
Except when you read the small print, it seems NHS Direct is actually not going to shut: it's going to become a digital TV station instead. It promises "the usual quality health information you’d expect from NHS Direct, you’ll also find photos, illustrations and video clips". It even promises advice on such imponderables as "finding an NHS dentist".
On the whole it would be a lot cheaper to screen old episodes of Emergency Ward 10 and Dr Kildare. And a lot more use.
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION FRIGGIN' QUID EVERY YEAR.
Posted by Mike D at 1:38 pm