New research published today has suggested that the UK helpline for healthcare, NHS Direct, is helping reduce accident and emergency (A&E) admissions.
An evaluation of 4554 telephone calls to the service was carried out, showing a high proportion of callers (41%) were advised by the service to treat themselves at home, 11% were referred to A&E, 28% to a general practitioner (GP), 5% to a walk-in centre, 4% to a dentist and 3% to a pharmacist.
The research also found that 73% of callers would either have attended A&E or visited their GP had they not been able to call NHS Direct. Two in five said they would have gone to their GP and three in 10 to A&E.
“These figures quite clearly show that NHS Direct is helping take the pressure off GP surgeries and A&E and what is particularly significant is how many of the callers advised to treat themselves at home would have otherwise gone to doctors’ surgeries and A&E”, said NHS Direct Chief Executive Matt Tee.
“It is also clear that the public like the service they get. Our patient satisfaction ratings are very high compared to almost any health, call-centre or online service.
“We know there are huge opportunities for further use of telephone, internet and TV in healthcare, but it’s good to know that what we do today has such a positive effect and is appreciated by the public.”