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NHS Direct fails to reach elderly

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A Welsh health council has revealed that elderly people still lack sufficient knowledge about NHS Direct despite successive campaigns to raise awareness of the service.

Gwent Community Health Council carried out a survey which found more than half of those questioned had never heard of the service which can be accessed by telephone or on the internet.

Overall, only one in five people had used the nurse-led information service and also showed in Blaenau Gwent, only one person out of the 21 taking part, were even aware of it.

Cathy O’Sullivan, chief officer of Gwent CHC, said: “Older people are very loyal to the NHS and heavy users of the services it offers. This generally very positive feedback is particularly welcome.

“The lack of awareness of the flagship advice line, NHS Direct; the NHS clearly needs to try harder to reach this key group of potential users.”

An NHS Direct Wales spokesman said: “While there is a good general awareness of the role of NHS Direct, we recognise this is lower among older people.

“We are working with other NHS organisations to promote our work and would be happy to work with community health councils across Wales to raise our profile.”

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