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Health Insight March 2002: Happy Birthday NHS Direct


NHS Direct was four years old on the 22nd March. Health Secretary Alan Milburn marked the day by visiting the NHS Direct site in Newcastle and setting out the next steps for the healthcare telephone service. The nurse-led helpline currently handles around 120,000 calls each week, although the call rate can increase significantly at public holidays. A report from the National Audit Office published in January confirmed earlier independent research that NHS Direct is at least as safe as other entry points into the NHS. The top ten symptoms people call the service about are: fever, abdominal pains, vomiting, rash, cough, diarrhoea, headache, cold/flu, toothache, and chest pain. Since it was launched in December 1999 four million people have visited NHS Direct Online (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk). It now offers an interactive enquiry service.

Source: BBC Online

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