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NHS Direct: Your comments

28 August 10 18:49
Neil Williamson

The coalition government has confirmed plans to scrap the NHS Direct helpline in England and replace it with a cheaper option.

People who have used the service have been sending their reaction to the BBC:

Justin Marsden, London

NHS Direct saved my life. I was 39 at the time and had a really bad headache. I'd only had it for about 10 minutes but it was incredibly painful and kept getting worse.

My wife rang NHS Direct and described my symptoms. They recommended dialling 999, saying that it sounded much more serious than a migraine. It turned out to be a brain haemorrhage. The last thing I remember is being wheeled out of an ambulance - my blood pressure had dropped and veins in my brain had collapsed.

I didn't need any surgery but I was in hospital for five days after that. Now I have to be careful with any migraine symptoms because it could go the same way again.

The government's plans worry me. How exactly are they going to make it cheaper? I'm worried they won't have the most technically adept or well-trained people. I just hope this "cheap" version does not cost anyone their life.

Neil Williamson, Southport, UK

The first time I used NHS direct I had tripped in the night and damaged a rib. The operator I spoke to almost immediately told me to go to accident and emergency.

We went to hospital and queued for hours. On finally seeing a doctor, he told me that I had wasted my time and should have just seen my GP. The doctor was very critical of NHS Direct and felt like they caused more problems than they solved.

I got the impression that NHS Direct would always just advise you to go to accident and emergency. It makes a mockery of the service - it's just a waste of money.

Now I wouldn't bother using the service, I'd just make my own judgement call about whether to go to hospital. I don't think the new service sounds like it will be any better.

Adam Lane, Liverpool

I have used NHS Direct on numerous occasions, including a few times this year. I have a testicular condition called chronic epididymitis, which causes swelling and excruciating pain.

The nurses are helpful and tell you exactly the right information, be it advising how to relieve the pain or organising out of hour GP appointments. My condition has got worse in the last year and I have relied on it to help relieve the pain, in between specialist and GP appointments.

My wife and I have also had a baby recently and we have used it for advice for some of our child's ailments. I don't like the idea of replacing it with a call centre. Having less nurses will mean it will cause havoc for people who actually need help.

John Jones, Bromley

I have phoned NHS Direct about three times and each experience was more frustrating than the last.

I feel that nothing is actually achieved with NHS Direct - there is no outcome. You aren't referred to anyone, or sent anywhere, it's just a talking shop. Everything we were told by NHS Direct could have been found on the internet.

On one occasion, my son was suffering terrible pains in his leg. When I rang NHS Direct, they told us to give him painkillers - I feel I could have found this out myself on the NHS website. Besides which, I waited for hours on the phone before getting through and I was becoming anxious about my child.

I like the NHS as a service, but NHS Direct is a waste of money.

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