Telecoms regulator suspends NHS Direct
The Premium Rate service offers callers the chance to speak to NHS staff about any concerns they have regarding their health at only £1 per minute* leading to an overall 0.002% reduction in visits to GP surgeries over the past 4 years, while also being linked to a 600% rise in hypochondria.
"We've suspected for a long time that NHS Direct uses this phone system to exploit the insecurities of the weak and line its own pockets," stated ICSTIS's Gregory T Mullet. "But now we have collected a dossier of evidence that suggests their only function is to make as much money as possible by keeping you on the phone for as long as possible."
The dossier includes a list of tactics for prolonging people's phone calls (without necessarily prolonging their lives), which include:
ICSTIS claims that some questions asked in the diagnostic phone interviews have answers that are so obscure that they are nearly impossible for the callers to get right. "One caller was asked whether there was anything unusual in his stool samples. He had no idea that the correct answer was a beige 1.4 litre 1975 Austin Allegro and spent 5 hours attempting to guess an answer they would accept," said Mr Mullet.
He also alleged that the public were still being encouraged to call NHS Direct by being given the impression they would be able to speak to a doctor or nurse, when in fact all performance targets had been met months before and everyone was on holiday. "In my opinion people who suspect they may be ill should go to their GPs or local A&E departments. That's all that NHS Direct will tell you to do anyway, after fleecing you for an hour or two."
When asked to respond to these allegations, Dr Douglas Ramsbotham of NHS Direct said, "We are well versed in dealing with complaints and will give you a full diagnosis of the problem after we've asked you a few questions to clarify your enquiry. If I could just pop you on hold for a moment I'll be right back..."
* Calls charged from a standard BT landline during normal office hours in a month when a two-headed goat has been born under the sign of Aries. £22.50 at other times, like when you actually need them. Charges for other phone providers may vary, wildly. Service only available to UK residents – no asylum seekers. Not all calls will be successful, that would be ridiculous, but all calls will be charged. Your call may be monitored for training purposes, and not so that the transcripts can be sold on to insurers and major employers. Promise.