There is now a number of discussions in the press, particularly from readers’ comments as to the success or failure of NHS Direct. The comments in the medical press are primarily focussed on NHS Direct having been a failure and never having had its service evaluated for cost effectiveness. This naturally does not take into account the NAO report on the service in 2002. But here is an alternative perspective from a reader sommetning in the Health Service Journal: ‘ On these pages i repeatedly see people criticise HSJ for poor standards of reporting. I would make the same criticism as alot of my NHS colleagues who make unsubstantiated claims or rely on a few anecdotes to justify a wider issue. As someone who monitors delivery of our local activity for NHSD I would encourage all those who say it has failed to come up with some evidence that’s more robust than a handful of cases. Our data (in NE London) shows that most calls are closed after the contact with NHSD and only a minority are referred on to any urgent care service. Data on who the users are tends to show that parents in particular welcome beign able to speak to someone quickly and get an opinion. In addition, I would challenge those people to think back to the swine flu – NHSD was inundated with calls back then and those who got as far as needing a clinical assessment by a nurse were dealt with quickly despite the surge. Re-deploy those nurses in primary care ? Give call handling to non nursing professionals ? Sounds like a recipe for a complete cock up if we have another major outbreak”
So how is it then that we can judge success or failure? Or is this just another perspective that needs to be taken into account when assessing serivces such as NHS Direct.