An open letter to John Prescott

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)! (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),

Olga Ivannikova


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5 Responses to “An open letter to John Prescott”

  1. NGC Says:

    The labour manifesto pledged to establish the 111 service, but it did not state that it was planning to abolish NHS Direct. This suggests that the service was going to be run as well as the NHS Direct service and so was in effect an expansion of the services offered by the NHS and improvement in the amount of services offering immediate contact with the NHS. It was also aimed at providing relief for the 999 service by reduceing the amount of non-emergency calls and to be an intermediate level between enquirys meant for NHS Direct (which are basically out of hours GP style enquirys) and emergency calls that require medical assitance.

    However, by abolishing NHS Direct and simply replaceing it with the 111 service a number of things are occuring. Firstly all the calls from NHS Direct will swamp the 111 service. The service was not designed for these so type of enquirys and so a service menat to give advice on non-hospital emergencys, will be swamped with questions from people about medication, aspects of treatment of long term illnesses and so on.

    Secondly, it has already been stated that the 111 service will have less medically trained staff than NHS direct. This is partly due to the nature of the service. But it also means that in real terms its a cut back on the number of skilled health proffesionals the population have access to. This can surely only result in more pressure being placed on both community care services and emergency services. There for, the ‘replacement’ of NHS direct with 111 is, in effect, a reduction in the level of Health services available to the community.

    Finally, I think is interesting to ask why 111 is being used to replace NHS direct, as opposed to simply reforming ar expanding NHS Direct. I think the key is the amount of non-health proffesionals involved. This can be used, in the future, to provide the basis of opening up an area of health care to private firms who would these non-trained people. The private firm which is the highest bidder can be used to provide these individuals in much the same way as cleaning services and catering are already provided in this way. This of course opens up a nice little market for private companys to gain money, but it represents another loss of control for health proffesionals in the area they work and another area where profit will be made at the expense of the wider community.

  2. Luke Richards Says:

    I can counter everything in that first reply in the comments section in 20 words:

    In December, Labour said they were going to abolish NHS Direct after a period of running it concurrently with 111.

  3. NGC Says:

    Actually they didn’t.

    They said the 111 service was not meant to replace NHS direct, but to help provide a more comprehensive service, which would help to provide the best service according to a callers needs.

    Overtime, if successful, 111 would become the number for both services. However, all NHS directs current services would continue to run, in conjunction with the 111 emergency service. If 111 became the single number in the future, NHS Direct would of continued to exsist.

    I am not a fan of Labour, or the health reforms they implemented. But pretending that they were going to abolish NHS Direct by setting up 111 is simply not true. They specifically stated that NHS Direct would continue and 111 was an expansion of phone services.

  4. Marie Chelle Says:

    Thank you very much my friend, you are very kind in sharing this useful information with? others…. he details were such a blessing, thanks.

  5. Benito III Says:

    Fabulous post! Loved reading your great post, I always can tag it

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