Dear John Prescott,
I am writing to you about your campaign against the new 111 service.
I want to remind you that the idea is FROM YOUR MANIFESTO. ‘A new national 111 telephone number will make non-emergency services far easier for people to access and book.’ – Labour Party manifesto (p. 35)! http://www2.labour.org.uk/uploads/TheLabourPartyManifesto-2010.pdf (By the way, as a Russian, I can’t help but notice how Soviet the front page of your manifesto is. Takes me back to my childhood, thanks)
Why would you campaign in such a misleading fashion needlessly scaring vulnerable people such as the elderly and others who rely on health services? Leaving partisan hypocritical attacks aside, let me remind why you wanted to change the service in the first place.
Im not an expert but I tend to trust doctors more than politicians when it comes to the debate about health services. According to the BBC, ‘GPs urged the government to get rid of NHS Direct, claiming it was not cost effective.’ And according to e-health insider ‘NHS Direct has never been popular with doctors.’
From my own conversations with doctors and A&E staff, NHS Direct seems to have a reputation for either saying: take some paracetamol or go to hospital, with not much in between. I am sure that there are many people working hard and genuinely saving lives but why not replace this with something more cost effective and with a number which people can actually remember? Nick Chapman, chief executive of NHS Direct himself said: “The new helpline will be better and more cost effective than NHS Direct“. Because the NHS budget is being ringfenced, resources saved can be redirected to other frontline services, which no doubt can help patients and save lives.
The 111 service is more based on the emergency doctor service, which is very effective. Also unlike NHS Direct, NHS 111 could book appointments with GPs and other services, and dispatch an ambulance without callers having to dial 999, amalgamating several services into one.
Maybe you should listen to experts and do what they say is best for people instead of trying to score cheap political points?
Best of luck (political victories aside),