Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP, Gordon Henderson has received a number of calls from constituents worried by rumours that the Government plans to scrap the NHS Direct Helpine.
The speculation began when the Secretary of State of Health, Andrew Lansley, announced an introduction of a new telephone service for patients to access non-emergency NHS healthcare, using a three-digit number – 111.
Shadow ministers immediately seized on Lansley’s statement as proof that the NHS Direct Helpline was to be abolished, but this has been strongly denied by the Government.
Mr Henderson said,
“I would like to reassure local people there are no plans for the NHS Direct as an organisation to be closed down, however, it is the Government’s intention to eventually replace the current NHS Direct telephone number (0845 46 47), which is costly to patients dialling the number from landlines and mobiles phones, with the new 111 number.
“When detailed plans are made to roll out the service nationally, we expect NHS Direct and its staff to play a key role in taking the new service forward.”