DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR HILARY JONES NHS CHOICES
NHS DIRECT NHS Direct has served as an essential service for non-emergency medical concerns for people in England since 1998. Operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week, NHS Direct provides a dedicated team of nurses and NHS staff who are always available at the other end of the phone (0845 4647).
NHS Direct handles up to 23,000 calls per day and 8.5 million calls a year.
Around 77 per cent of the calls received
by NHS Direct are from people suffering from symptoms. However, people also call NHS Direct for health information.
For example, if you want to keep an eye on how much you drink, there’s a tracker where you can fill out details about how many units you consume over the course of two weeks, helping you to stay within your recommended limits.
EXTENSIVE ARTICLES Some things in life are inevitable, like puberty, the menopause and ageing. However, getting through these major life changes can be quite stressful. NHS Choices provides extensive articles on all of life’s inevitable changes with links and further information to help you understand what to expect and how best to cope with your body’s changes. For example, NHS Choices has a whole section dedicated to the menopause, with several articles exploring everything from the practicalities to the emotional changes you may experience with advice on getting through the change with your partner. All articles can be found in the ‘Live Well’ section of the site, which can be navigated to from the home page.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES It seems that almost every day there is a new super-food or health scare reported in the media. It can therefore become difficult to pick the facts from fiction. ‘Behind the Headlines’ is a section on NHS Choices that aims to separate the fact from the fiction and squash the media hype. Each article in the section reviews the research conducted behind a recent news story. The article will seek to explain what kind of medical research was undertaken and conclude as to whether the sample study was robust and examine how reliable the findings from the study are. The ‘Behind the Headlines’ section can be found by clicking on the ‘Health
News’ tab on the homepage. GIVING YOURSELF A HEALTH MOT
Is your diet affecting your health? Are you drinking too much? Are you active enough? Getting personalised health information, whether to address specific concerns or just see how you are faring, can be tricky. With NHS Choices’ life check tool it is now much easier to check how healthy you are. The free LifeCheck (www.nhs.uk/lifecheck
) tool asks the user a small number of questions about age and lifestyle, which generates an individual health profile and health tips tailored to their specific needs. The user is then encouraged to follow the action points to improve their health and wellbeing. We all lead busy lives and often this means that managing our health comes at the bottom of our long list of priorities. The internet can be a lifeline in helping you and your family to stay healthy, with all of the information you need just a click away. n
18 DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR HILARY JONES
Most calls received by NHS Direct are regarding abdominal pain, dental pain, rashes, medicine enquiries and chest pain. Around 55 per cent of calls are from women. In 2010/11, 55 per cent of callers were able
to treat themselves without visiting a doctor after receiving advice from NHS Direct.
The NHS Direct employs 3,150 staff; 1,150 of these are trained nurses and is the largest single e-health service in the world.
© IStock; NHS Direct
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