Are these numbers real?

In a written parliamentary answer to the Liberal Democrats, ministers revealed that the operating costs of the service had run at more than £22 per call since 2004, when it was established as a national service.

That figure rose to £25.54 in 2005-06 and last year the cost per call was £25.53, the statistics show.

That\’s the cost of NHS Direct.

According to the British Medical Association it costs the NHS between £20 and £25 every time a patient sees their GP.


They manage to make a phone based service cost just as much as a personal, office based one? What in hell are they spending the money on?

6 thoughts on “Are these numbers real?”

  1. In the 18th Century, these jobs were known as sinecures; i.e. jobs with no work attached to them that were given out in return for political support. Plus ca change, ….

  2. Apples to oranges. The NHS Direct figures are [total cost of service] / [number of calls], whereas the GP figures will be the marginal cost of an appointment.

  3. Good point, John B, assuming you are right, it raises the question of what the full cost per GP appointment is.

    Still, doesn’t distract from the fact that £25 a phone call seems a hell of a lot.

  4. A bit of back-of-the-enveloping suggests GBP30-50 based on salary alone and assuming 3 appointments per hour (so that’s probably roughly how the BMA figure is derived) – not sure how much overheads add in, but I suspect it’s substantial.

    Tim adds: From memory, GP appointments are supposed (something from John Crippen) to average out at 8 minutes each. So more than halve that perhaps?

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