Hospital Telephone Switchboard numbers should be made available in an online directory so that members of the public can quickly obtain the right level of advice for more minor queries without having to call 999.
The NHS choices website contains no lists of treatments/departments or telephone numbers. Being heavily pregnant and with a potential problem I was advised to contact my local midwife centre/hospital. However, I was amazed to find that no telephone numbers were available to the public. In desperation I called NHS Direct to see if they could help. They informed me that they were unable to give out hospital telephone switchboard numbers because to do so would be an infringement of the Data Protection Act!!!! They advised me to call my Dr and see if they could provide me with a telephone number instead, or alternatively make my way to the hospital and show up in person myself. What a waste of time for all concerned. I have spoken to other people that I know and they have come up against the same problems, some of whom resorted to calling 999 in the absence of other contact numbers. I have never come across such a ludicrous excuse for not being able to give out telephone numbers of public services to the public!! Particularly over something so important!! Is it any wonder that 999 calls are misused and resources wasted !
Why does this idea matter?
Because it will save time and money to the NHS and also to patients. It will also help make the NHS more transparent and accessible.