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NHS Direct and the great macramé doily initative

Wii Fit, Jeremy Kyle and making macramé doilies to sell on eBay: the distractions for a home-working nurse adviser will be many, warns Copperfield

So, ‘Hundreds of NHS Direct Advisers set to work from home'. An interesting headline, but surely missing, at the end, the words, ‘…making macramé doilies to sell on eBay'?

But no, the idea seems to be that, in a cost-cutting measure to save £28 million, NHS Direct nurse advisers are going to relocate from call centres to home. Yes, home, that place where they have Jeremy Kyle blathering in the background, where little brother can overhear every nuance of the interaction with Mrs Smith and her performing piles, and where distractions ranging from Wii-fit to a nail file clearly won't be an issue on account of the job being so worthwhile and riveting.

Look, if the powers-that-be want to yield ‘significant financial benefits' from NHS Direct, I have a very simple idea: scrap the whole thing. And if you think my blogs are developing a 'get-rid-of-it theme', you're dead right. Because one good thing about Economic Armageddon is that it at least gives us the excuse and opportunity to ditch initiatives that are wasteful, stupid and self indulgent.

And if the redundant NHS Direct nurses making macramé doilies initiative doesn't work out (and that's one I'd really like to see on Dragon's Den), they could always find a job with the new 111 helpline - which appears to be NHS Direct anyway, but with a more memorable number. That'll last a few years until some bright spark has the idea of scrapping this new initiative as a cost-cutting measure, and diverting all the calls to us poor GPs. So we'll be back where we were years ago, having simply created an intolerable demand in the meantime.

And it's about then that I'd introduce my own helpline for punters: 666.

'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.

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