NHS Direct: ‘We’re Here’ for life’s little health emergencies

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It’s three o’clock in the morning and your five-year old won’t stop crying. You’re worried sick.

You’ve woken up with a dreadful stomach ache – it’s now 11am and it hasn’t got any easier but you don’t want to bother your GP.

NHS Direct: ‘We’re Here’ for life’s little health emergenciesYour father has chest pains and thinks it’s indigestion – you think otherwise and want to get some urgent help and advice.

Where do you turn?

Our advisors are at the end of the phone 24/7 for life’s little health emergencies 365 days a year.  Just dial 0845 46 47¹ or visit us on www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

So what happens when you phone NHS Direct?

When you dial 0845 4647, a welcome message confirms you’ve called NHS Direct and lets you know what details you’ll need to provide.

When your call is answered, a trained health advisor asks you for some personal information including your name, date of birth, contact telephone number, your GP’s name and details of any medication you may be taking.  If you’re calling on behalf of someone else e.g. a child, you will need to provide this information for them.

The health advisor will initially carry out an assessment of your needs and if appropriate they may refer your call directly to 999, A&E, a GP or dentist. But if you don’t need to be immediately referred to any of the above your call will be put through to an NHS Direct nurse advisor for a more detailed assessment.

How can NHS Direct help you online? – Log onto www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

NHS Direct has a number of symptom checkers available online. A colds and flu symptom checker , for example, helps you check anything from a sore throat or persistent cough to sinusitis (a blocked nose causing facial or forehead pain) and earache. Recently NHS Direct launched a mental health advice symptom checker to enable you to explore how you can deal with common mental health conditions.

The symptom checkers take the process used by NHS Direct call centre nurses to assess symptoms over the phone and adapted it for the website to enable you to weigh up your own aches and pains.

An online self-help guide also enables you to get advice on treating common health problems at home.

A little background information about NHS Direct

NHS Direct is a first contact for anyone seeking medical help out of hours – we take on average over 25,000 calls a day!

Our national health and information helpline handles a wide range of calls including:

  • Clinical assessment of anyone who is unwell and is unsure what to do
  • Information on local health services and support organisations
  • Advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle e.g. giving up smoking
  • Information about illnesses, conditions, tests, treatments and operations
  • Complex enquiries about medication e.g. interactions, overdosing, poisoning etc
  • Information in response to national health alerts e.g. swine flu

NHS Direct’s telephone service is delivered from 35 call centres across the country linked into a single virtual contact centre.  This means your calls can be answered quickly because the system routes callers to the next available advisor in the country.

Don’t speak English? Not a problem

NHS Direct can also provide you with confidential interpreters in many languages within minutes of your call.  A three-way teleconference then takes place between you, the NHS Direct staff member and the interpreter.  You can also request health information to be translated and sent to you in your preferred language.

So please remember, whether it’s 3am or 11am, ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or visit the website on www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk Calls cost a maximum of 5p per minute from a BT landline. Mobiles and other networks may vary, and you may be charged a minimum cost per call.

¹NHS Direct is only available to people calling within England

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