The health line which gives round the clock advice on 0845 46 47 is joining up with other services. The nurses who give the advice currently suggest to callers that they should take some action themselves, visit the accident and emergency unit or call their GP. A pilot project has been launched in Chelmsford to give advice and support on social welfare issues. The advice will be provided by the Social Services emergency duty team who will be located with the nurse advisors.The joining-up project will be expanded in March 2000 by linking directly to the local community pharmacy service. This will allow NHS Direct nurses to refer callers directly to their local community pharmacy services for further advice on drugs and medicines. The project is being piloted in conjunction with the National Pharmaceutical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
If the schemes in Essex are successful they could be repeated across the country in other NHS Direct sites.
NHS Direct will cover 60% of the population by the end of 1999.