back to article NHS Direct

Welcome to the Age of the Weak. Got a sniffle? It’s Bird Flu not a cold. Don’t want to get out of bed in the morning? You're not workshy, you've got SAD. To combat this pathetic malingering - or at least to stop it jamming up GPs' switchboards - NHS Direct is now available on an Android - iOS too - smartphone near you. NHS …


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  1. irish donkey

    Good App but

    the Government is shutting NHS Direct down.

    So how long will it last?

    1. Steve Davis 1

      there is still a chance

    2. David Gosnell

      Not strictly true

      They are dumping the phone service (probably to be rolled into the proposed 111 service) but despite claims of Tory u-turns etc etc, it was never proposed to get rid of the entire thing, and an app like this would fit very well into a newer and more streamlined delivery model. Gawd, I sound like a policy-maker here...

    3. Robert E A Harvey


      Given the variable quality of the advice I have been given, It has already lived too long.

  2. David Neil

    England and Wales only?

    Or does it interface with NHS24 in Scotland for the callbacks?

  3. Thomas 4

    Oh *good*

    As a medical man myself, I can see this app becoming a royal pain in the ass for me. The problem with self diagnosis apps is that patients tend to treat multiple choice options like dishes in a restuarant:

    "Let's see, have I got a headache....well, it feels a bit funny, so I'll say yes and my stomach feels queasy that had absolutely nothing to do with the raw 3 o'clock kebab last night, so that's another yes.....oooo, looks like I have bubonic plague, better go see the doctor..."

    "No sir, you haven't got plague, you're just hungover."

    "Worthless quack, this NHS DIrect app says I have plague."

    "I see. Did the programmers do ten years of medical school?"

    "No but it does have a very shiny interface."

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      Medicine and IT support have so much in common:

      I get friends come to me all the time with computer problems, and the discussion *always* goes thus:

      Them: "I am but a poor, weak, worthless being who knows nothing about these computer thingies, will you take a look at this?"

      Me: "Of course" <Fiddles> "Ah, OK, it's just such-and-such, I'll sort it now"

      Them, suddenly gaining twenty years of IT experience and a hitherto unknown confidence in their capabilities: "Don't be bloody silly, you're wrong, how can you know that, my mate down the pub says it's *definitely* the Humpty Dumpy Virus, how can you be so stupid as to not agree with us?"

      Me: "Piss off and never darken my doorstep again, you worthless idiot".

      I'm rapidly running out of friends....


    2. Dapprman

      I understnad where you're coming from, but ...

      this is just an app version of the NHS Direct website that has been scaring hypochodriacs for a good few years.

    3. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Down

      What a strange thing to say.....

      ***"As a medical man myself"***

      What a strange thing to say. Why not just say "As a doctor, nurse, dentist, pedicurist"?

      ***""I see. Did the programmers do ten years of medical school?""***

      No, I don't expect they have. Just like I'm not a rocket scientist, yet I write satellite tracking programs. I'm not a phlebotomist, yet I write software for managing blood transfusions. I'm not a cartographer, yet I write mapping applications.

      And, I dare say, the people who wrote the software that runs all of the various electronic devices that patients rely on to keep them alive in intensive care didn't spend "10 years in medical school" either.

      How do we it? Well, surprisingly, we work with people who *are* experts in their fields.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh *good*

      "I see. Did the programmers do ten years of medical school?"

      Which of those ten years is it where general practitioners learn about just going with the flow and prescribing stuff from the company whose promotional literature has most recently graced their desk, or does that happen later in one's career?

      It's all very well moaning about those stupid patients - presumably another course at medical school where one's empathy is removed and bottled - but quite a few people are fobbed off every year by GPs only to need more serious, invasive and expensive treatment. Well, those who actually managed to get an appointment in the first place, of course.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NHS Direct...

      How many of these guidelines end up with "go to your nearest A&E"? (That's the cynical part of me talking).

      However.... I don't work within the NHS so I might take a look and see how you guys are set up. If it is somewhat sensible I will applaud it.

      Never, however, underestimate the ignorance of the common public.

      Case in point. Woman falls down the stairs, unconscious. What do her friends do? Call for an ambulance? No.... They call our local equivalent of NHS direct.

      I mean ...

      seriously ...


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: NHS Direct...

        "Never, however, underestimate the ignorance of the common public."

        Never, however, underestimate the effectiveness of whatever propaganda campaign is currently being run to stop people from doing something.

        "Case in point. Woman falls down the stairs, unconscious. What do her friends do? Call for an ambulance? No.... They call our local equivalent of NHS direct."

        Maybe this is because people keep getting told not to bother the ambulance service. After a while, people start to question their own common sense responses and do the unintuitive thing.

        It's just so funny to call people stupid, isn't it? When people err on the side of not making a fuss (because Britard propaganda has told them not to), you can call them stupid. When people err on the side of making a fuss (because they panic - a natural response), you can call them stupid.

        A policy of a balanced education for everyone, properly funded and directed by well-paid, motivated people is the remedy here, but the Policy of the Britards (as demonstrated by idiot governments propped up by ignorant Britards themselves, naturally) has been to skimp on such essentials in favour of idiotic pointing, shouting and the occasional big stick when "the common public" don't all run in the same direction when you want them to.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    An App to go with the web site and the phone line so now your iPhone can ask you "Are you currently dying?" [Yes]->[Call Ambulance] : [No]->[Probably best you make an appointment with your GP about that]

    I would advise anyone who wants some actual diagnostics, advice, or simple re-assurance to try Boots WebMD. I was very surprised to find it not hawking its latest range of own-brand pharmaceuticals, insoles or sugar-pills and actually providing some useful information.

    1. irish donkey
      Thumb Up

      Bit like PCworld

      Yes a NHS run to the PCworld model.

      Advice from somebody that can read the label on the bottle

      Hmm sounds like a good idea. Maybe you should email it to Dave

  5. ttuk
    Thumb Up


    This article has been live for over 2 hours and so far no comments about govt "wasting" money on developing apps when we are supposed to be cutting back...

    To me it seems like a logical extension to the website, although of course the ability to show you local options without redirecting to your browser would be good

  6. caffeine addict

    Shame it's not an app really...

    It doesn't have any content built in - it gets it all from the internet every time you answer a question. It might as well be a web site.

  7. Dapprman

    Are there save points ...

    ... so that you can try and get the ending where you're told to go boating down the Thames ?

    <instead of my coat I'll go get my blazer and straw boater>

  8. EddieD

    +1 on Hypochondria.

    No more ringing up trying to sound pathetic with generalised symptoms, now you have a whole arsenal of ready made symptoms to reel off to your boss (I've always favoured the inner ear infection route for sickies - no external symptoms...and no embarassing fictions about toilets...but I digress)

    The first chapter of "Three Men in a Boat" has the author reading a medical text book in the British Museum Library, and convicing himself that he has everything written in it. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose and all that. if you're interested. I wish modern doctors responded the same way, rather than handing out unnecessary antibiotics

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the bleedin' obvious

    Sunburn response that you think is obvious actually isn't. People call 999 every summer to complain of being hot and sweaty.

    The only problem I forsee is that the iPhone screen is not that easy to see in bright sunlight.

    1. I_am_Chris


      If it was so obvious why do I keep seeing lobster-red people sunbathing/topless come a sunny spell??

      People need protecting from themselves and NHSdirect is a good first step.

  10. Kay Burley ate my hamster
    Big Brother

    A general comment about Android reviews

    Can you put the link to the Android Market page for the app at the end of the reviews?

    Many Android users (Unlike iPhone users (go on flame me)) remote-install apps via the website install button, this also helps if you are reading the article on your Android.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Dr. Watson

    Dr. Watson - IBM is actually suggesting taking the same tech that drove Watson to dominance in Jeopardy and using it for medical diagnosis: you'd have a doctor with an enormous knowledge of arcane diseases, that makes a large number of diagnosis that are implausible at best, until it finally hits on the right one.

    I don't know why I thought of that when reading the "House Rules" link.....

    Of course, they will need to find a good voice for it. Perhaps a nice British actor for the UK, and a good American voice for the States.

    Shame they couldn't find one person who could do both.

  12. Johan Bastiaansen

    Oh doctor please help me, I'm damaged...

    And my mobile phone says I'm a hypochondriac.

    Now what?

  13. Robert Grant


    The author of this article makes one good point: the app doesn't help at all with hyperchondria. Because hyperchondriacs would never install it.

    If you're going to immortalise your Daily Mail thoughts, please don't call people workshy until you can be bothered to get up from writing a short article to open a dictionary.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android App?

    This app and the Formula 1 app are just part of a collection of Android apps that annoy me. They are Android apps yet implement an iPhone interface. Android phones have a back button, we don't need you using up a chunk of our screen to put another software one on there.

    Also, the Formula 1 app goes a step further to disable the hardware back button - WTF?

    I know this isn't the dev's fault, well, it is as they're not being firm enough with their clients. But for all those companies out there wanting apps built - trust the developer and stop forcing them to make Android applications look and behave like iPhone applications - they are two different platforms.


  15. snellasaurus

    nice chitty reference BUT

    It should be 'tout de suite' surely

    'toot sweet' sounds like candy with a flatulent effect.

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