NHS Direct 'referring too many patients'
13 June 2007 00:00 in Medical Government/ NHS related news
NHS Direct, the 24-hour health-service run phoneline and website, is referring too many patients to their GPs and emergency services, it has been claimed, which could put patients suffering genuine emergencies at risk of experiencing delays.
The British Medical Association (BMA) asserted that the service is often over-cautious in its referrals, with relatively minor conditions resulting in urgent appointments, the BBC reports.
Dr Mark Reynolds, a spokesman for the NHS Alliance, told the news provider: "NHS Direct is too cautious.
"[It refers] patients on as urgent or emergency when doctors doing out-of-hours or in accident and emergency would not recognise them as such."
He added that some patients have been referred to emergency services with conditions including vomiting, moderate temperatures and diarrhoea, which has resulted on a "strain" on the health service.
NHS Direct was formed in 1997 and has undergone a number of changes since its establishment, the most marked of which being the addition of a digital television services in 2004.
The group reports that in excess of two million people access its services every month.
In January, the government announced plans to launch a new website which will link to NHS Direct and provide consolidated information on hospitals and treatment centres with the aim of empowering patients to make better-informed healthcare choices.
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Story collated for Zenopa by the Adfero News Agency