Coincidentally, given yesterday's announcement that the Coalition Government is to close NHS Direct, I had to call on its services yesterday morning when my son complained of stomach cramp.
Although the initial call was taken by a call-handler (what they?), I was soon called back by a paediatric nurse who reviewed his symptoms and then made an appointment for us to be seen at an emergency clinic at 9.00am.
Following NHS Direct's replacement by the cheaper 1-1-1 helpline, call-handlers, with around 60 hours training, will take the majority of the calls. As I found yesterday, when calling about a sick child, there's no alternative to fast, effective diagnosis and referral - remember this is a holiday weekend in the UK, and my own GPs' surgery is closed until Tuesday morning: what would 1-1-1 provide in this instance?
Andrew Lansley's announcement of NHS Direct's demise - during Parliament's Summer recess, makes Cameron's promise on NHS funding seem like cheap political opportunism, intended to dupe the gullible into voting for the Tories "the new party of the NHS".
Remember the 80s - the NHS most certainly isn't safe in their grubby little hands.