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Health Services: Telephone Services

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the (a) costs and (b) benefits of a three-digit telephone number for urgent care which his Department is considering, as referred to on page 40 of High Quality Care for All, Cm 7432; which (i) officials and (ii) other parties are involved in the next phase of work on the matter; when he plans to set out further details on the next phase of work; whether his Department plans to encourage the development of local three-digit urgent care numbers ahead of its national review, as recommended in the visions documents of England's strategic health authorities; and if he will make a statement; (221020)

(2) what each of the options being considered by his Department for an urgent care number are as referred to on page 27 of NHS Next Stage Review: Our vision for primary and community care.

The Next Stage Review set out that we are currently considering various options to introduce a new three-digit telephone number to help people find the right local service to meet their urgent, unplanned care needs. Part of this phase of work will include considering the costs and benefits of introducing a three-digit number.

Officials in the Commissioning and System Management Directorate are leading this project and working with others in the Department and stakeholders including from strategic health authorities (SHAs), primary care trusts, ambulance trusts, out of hours providers, clinicians and NHS Direct. Officials will be exploring with SHAs their plans for implementing a three-digit number to inform options development. Further details from this phase of work will be set out in the autumn.