freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Oops he's done it again | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Good old Andrew Lansley, the Tory Health Secretary. You can always rely on him for entertainment when you need a good laugh. The other day is a good example. Poor old Andrew let slip that NHS Direct – the phoneline service for people who need health advice but aren’t sure if they should see their doctor – is being scrapped. He blurted out the news while on a visit to Basingstoke and North Hampshire hospital (he wasn’t supposed to mention it, apparently).

Hmm, I wonder why? Could it be because the service, which is used by 27,000 people a day, is being replaced by a cut-price call centre scheme? The scheme in question. the 111 service, is being piloted in the North-East, where two call centres are staffed by advisers who have completed a 60-hour course – hardly an in-depth medical training then – with just one nurse on duty at each centre. So yes, of course it’s going to save money, since they’ll be able to get rid of the majority of the trained staff who are currently working for NHS Direct (so yet more people to join the dole queue then). But at what cost? And if there’s only one nurse at each call centre, if you do need more information than the 60-hour-trained staff can give you, then I wonder how long you’ll have to be put on hold before you actually speak to the nurse who’s on duty at the time?

Funnily enough, the same day the story about Lansley’s latest blunder was reported, I received a press release from NHS Direct about how students starting university could benefit from the advice NHS Direct offers. Well if the 111 service is rolled out nationally and replaces NHS Direct any time soon (and since Lansley has let that slip before he should have, it could now be sooner rather than later), I imagine most students starting university this October will be receiving their doctorates before they manage to get any sensible health advice over the phone from 111.

Oh well, at least they can save money on going to comedy clubs by following the next round of Mr Lansley’s exploits. Should we take bets on what his next embarrassing faux pas will be?