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When my 6mnth son was running a slight temperature, was off his food and was a little lethargic I decided to give NHS Direct a call. The phone was answered very quickly and politely by a lady who asked briefly what the problem was and took his details- name, age, address, doctor etc. She asked me to hold for a few moments (I was played so pleasant music whilst holding) while she checked how soon a nurse would be able to call me back. She told me that I would recieve a phonecall within an hour, and that I should call back if his symptoms got worse, or if no-one had called me within a hour. All this happened at around 8.30pm.
I duly put my son to bed and waited. The minutes rolled by, and by 9.30pm I had virtually given up. At 9.35pm the phone rang and I was very pleased to hear the women on the end of the phone say NHS Direct. Unfortunately, she continued this phrase with 'representative', instead of nurse. She politely explained to me that the nurses were very busy on the evening in question and were proritising they're phone calls. As a result they would not be able to call me back within the time they had stated.......as if I hadn't already noticed!! She asked if I would mind waiting a little longer for the call, and I agreed. She didn't state how long it would be, but did say that it wouldn't be long.
I duly sat down again and waited, again. At 10.15pm - 1hr 45mins after I had first called) a nurse finally rang me. She asked me in more detail what the problem was and I told her. She asked if my son was with me and I informed her that I had put him to bed and he was asleep. "Oh!" she said "he can't be that ill then"!!! Now if any of you have children you'll know that they have a tendency to sleep a lot when they're ill. So I was a little annoyed by her comment. She then went through a long list of questions, such as 'when did he last eat', 'does he have a rash', 'how long has he been like it'etc. Basically, all the questions that you would be asked if you were to go and see the doctor in person. At one point whe n she was asking the questions I heard her say to herself 'no I've already asked those questions', indicating to me that she simply had a list of questions given to her with possible solutions and remedies.
After she had asked me all the questions, the only thing which she could come up with was 'a hangover from his cold'. I wasn't very impressed. I then asked her what I could do to help him feel more comfortable, pointing out that I had already given Calpol. To this question she told me, rather bluntly, that giving Calpol was really the only thing I could do!! Throughout the whole conversation I was made to feel as if I was wasting her time and she could be 'helping' people with much more serious problems. Infact the two friendliest people I spoke to were the lady who answered my call, and the rep who called me to tell me I would have to wait longer.
I certainly shan't be using NHS Direct again as I feel that I had to wait almost 2hrs to be told that I didn't really have a problem.