A call centre in Newcastle is among 24 NHS Direct sites that will close - resulting in hundreds of jobs losses, according to union leaders.
Unison said the sites employ more than 1,500 frontline nursing and other professional staff. Other large centres that are set for closure include Bristol, Sheffield, Wakefield, Nottingham, Hull, Stafford and Chelmsford.
Michael Walker, Unison's National Officer at NHS Direct said:
– Michael Walker, Unison's National Officer at NHS Direct
"The Secretary of State for Health should step in and stop this disaster immediately. We need action and we need it now. Axing dedicated hard-working nurses is never a good idea at any time, but this will directly impact on patient care. There is no doubt that patients will suffer as a result of this move."
NHS Direct answers 4.2 million calls for health advice and information for patients in England every year.