NHS Direct - History and Background

History and Background

NHS Direct was launched in 1998 after the government identified a need for a telephone health advice line staffed by nurses as part of its plans to modernise the NHS.

The aim of NHS Direct, as stated by the government in the NHS White Paper, The New NHS, was "to provide people at home with easier and faster advice and information about health, illness, and the NHS, so that they are better able to care for themselves and their families".

The NHS Direct telephone service began taking calls in three contact centres in Lancashire, Northumbria and Milton Keynes in March 1998. These original sites were set up as pilots but soon proved successful, reaching over 1 million people and earning highly positive feedback. Additional waves of pilots were established in contact centres around England until the whole country was covered by the NHS Direct telephone service in 2000.

NHS Direct added a website to its services at the end of 1999, allowing users to find clinically accurate health advice and information anonymously and at their leisure. Since its creation, the NHS Direct website has steadily improved and developed, attracting more and more users. Currently, there are over 1.5 million visitors to the website every month.

NHS Direct's services continue to expand and improve, as do the ways in which they reach their users. It has been said that this has made the organisation "the largest and most successful healthcare provider of its kind, anywhere in the world".

It was reported that each call made to NHS Direct cost £25 to answer - an earlier official report had put the total at £16.

Read more about this topic:  NHS Direct

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