The NHS 111 service is dangerously understaffed and putting millions of lives at risk, a whistleblower has claimed.Read the full story ›
NHS Direct has now closed, according to nhsdirect.nhs.uk, despite the help service being scheduled to cease operation on March 31st.
A message on the NHS Direct website said users could still check symptoms on the NHS choices page.
The closure of the telephone and online health advice provider follows the NHS trust’s announcement it was pulling out of all 11 of its NHS 111 contracts because they were "financially unsustainable."
Over half a million people called the NHS 111 service in June, according to figures released by NHS England today.
In June there were 552,717 calls to the service with 94 per cent of people dialling 111 directly.
96 per cent of answered calls made to NHS111 were answered within 60 seconds, with one per cent of calls abandoned after waiting more than 30 seconds.
The NHS 111 service has been thrown into turmoil after NHS Direct announced it was to pull out of its contracts due to financial problems.Read the full story ›
Dance teacher Thema Davis called 111 in April when she suffered an attack of Gastroparesis, a stomach condition.
But the people she spoke to told her she would have to answer 50 questions before she could see a doctor.
"I was left for so long that I got so dehydrated that my kidneys almost failed," she said.
ITV News science and medical editor Lawrency McGinty has this report:
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "This is a mess of ministers' own making. Jeremy Hunt was warned that this would happen but he chose to plough on regardless.
"It's not good enough Jeremy Hunt hiding behind his officials. He must take responsibility and put a plan in place to ensure a safe and sustainable service in all parts of England.
"The destruction of NHS Direct, a trusted, national service, is one of the worst acts of vandalism by this Government. It has been broken up into 46 cut-price contracts. Computers have replaced nurses and too often the computer says 'go to A&E'."
"The vast majority of the country are getting an excellent service," Lord Howe insisted today.
The Health Minister told ITV News that "the failings [of the service] are isolated and very few."
A prominent Liberal Democrat peer has praised the troubled NHS non-emergency telephone service 111 for providing him with "efficient and superb" medical assistance after suffering a heart attack.
Speaking during a private notice question (PNQ) on NHS Direct, Lord Willis of Knaresborough said: "On June 9 I had reason to call 111 because I was having a heart attack.
"The response from 111 was not only excellent in York - not only at the same time did they call the paramedics, but they had me in hospital within 25 minutes to an absolutely superb accident and emergency."
NHS England deputy chief executive Dame Barbara Hakin told ITV News NHS 111 is a "great concept" and blamed providers, including NHS Direct, for failing to deliver a quality service: