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NHS 24 goes live

26/08/2002

The first stage of the 24-hour telephone advice service for patients was launched in Aberdeen today.

Patients in the North East of Scotland are the first to benefit from the round-the-clock service which offers guidance, health information and triage by qualified NHS nurses over the phone.

The new services will also provide:

  • professional advice about health matters and support on the appropriate action to the taken
  • improved access to health services by developing better links between GP out-of-hours services, pharmacists, and accident and emergency services
  • improved and more appropriate response to 999 callers who do not require the immediate dispatch of an ambulance

Officially opening the new service, based in Aberdeen, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said:

"People's need for health advice and care does not stop at the end of the working day. They have to be able to access that advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 years a year. NHS 24 will do just that.

"I am delighted that the north of Scotland is the first to benefit from this new service. NHS 24 is one of the most significant and radical developments in the recent history of the NHS. It will help transform the patient experience and the way in which they can access health advice and services.

"Modernising the NHS means redesigning the services offered to patients to give them more control over how, when and where they are treated. We have taken time to develop our plans to ensure there is a true integration with existing services. It will provide a seamless service for patients. Through nurse triage and assessment, the public will be appropriately referred to their GP, pharmacist or if necessary to hospital which will help alleviate pressures on GPs and on our A&E departments.

"I also believe that NHS 24 will be able to enhance NHS services for people living in rural areas. This will enable people who might just need some advice or reassurance. NHS 24 will be able to provide a nurse at the other end of the line who will be able to determine whether it is something serious or not.

"I am also pleased that the new service also builds on our commitment to offer more flexible career options to our NHS nurses, particularly those trying to balance work and family life. I also believe that NHS 24 will play its part in our wider efforts to ensure that NHSScotland recruits and retains the skilled nurses it needs both now and in the future."

Christine Lenihan, Chair of NHS 24 said:

"I know from talking with people across Scotland that their greatest anxiety is felt at night. That may be an elderly person living alone pr perhaps a young worried mother with a sick child. NHS 24's experienced nurses are there at the end of a telephone to give reassurance, advice and help to people when they need it, round the clock, every single day of the year."

NHS 24 will provide nurse-led advice, referral and information on health and healthcare services through three leading edge contact centres. The first is based in Aberdeen the second will be based in Glasgow and a third centre will be based in the east of Scotland (location still to be decided). The triage service will be delivered to national standards and will be supported by clinical decision-making software.

The NHS 24 centre in Aberdeen employs around 60 nurses and it provides flexible career opportunities for more NHS nurses.

The centre currently provides advice to patients in Grampian. This will rolled out to Highlands, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

Patients in the North East wishing to consult NHS 24 should call 08454 242424.