Over the next 12 weeks, NHS Direct is to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of its referrals and self-care advice provided to patients to ensure that it is "fit for purpose" in comparison with other care provider patient pathways and that it is evidence-based, the organisation has announced.
NHS Direct will be holding seven workshops up and down the country, and is inviting a cross section of health and social care professionals to analyse the patient pathway experienced at NHS Direct based on the top 10 reasons for calling.
The review of anonymised case studies is designed to improve the service and provide more accessible care that is clinically recommended and analysed by a mixture of health and social care professionals. The study may also highlight areas for further staff development when delivering urgent and self-care outcomes.
NHS Direct handles more than 22,000 calls a day – over eight million calls a year. In addition, the NHS Direct website receives around 21 million visits a year. NHS Direct employs more than 3,000 staff, over 1,200 of whom are trained nurses.
Professionals from a variety of backgrounds are being invited to attend and participate in the new study, including providers of GP out-of-hours services.
A recent review of urgent and emergency care services by the Healthcare Commission found that the system was not working as well as it could. The NHS Direct study aims to enable health and social care professionals to network and consider the patient journey.
Helen Young, NHS Direct Clinical Director, said: "This study will help us to ensure that the Department of Health targets for 2008/09 – of more than 60% of calls completed within NHS Direct and fewer than 20% referred to an urgent pathway – are clinically safe and appropriate for the patient."