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Increased calls to NHS 24 over festive break

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Scottish NHS call centres were flooded with calls over the Christmas and new year period, with tens of thousands of anxious people ringing NHS 24 and the Scottish Flu Response Centre for advice.

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NHS 24 staff took 74,160 calls and the Scottish Flu Response Centre advised 3,858 members of the public - a combined increase of about 1,100 people from the 2008-09 festive season.

Monday 4 January was the services’ busiest day, when 13,347 people called in about their health.

NHS 24 chief executive John Turner said: “The NHS 24 service has coped extremely well with the demand and we would like to thank all of the dedicated staff, both at NHS 24 and in our partner health services, for their tremendous efforts to meet the needs of patients.

“Over the four day Christmas weekend the health helpline took more than 38,500 calls compared with 37,590 last year, and a further 39,500 calls were handled over the four day new year weekend, including 1,430 calls to the Scottish Flu Response Centre. Call demand over the four day holiday break last year was 39,331.”

More than 850,000 people used online and telephone services from NHS Direct, England’s equivalent to NHS 24, in the Christmas period.

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