NHS Direct has launched a service that allows users to obtain details of local health services by text messages.
Anyone wishing to find their nearest GP, dentist, pharmacy, optician, walk-in centre, A&E or hospital in England can text the name of the service required, followed by a postcode, to 61121. A text message is sent back in reply, with details of the closest services to that postcode, and further results can be obtained if needed. Results contain the service name, address and telephone number (where available) plus the distance from the postcode. Commenting on the new service, Ronnette Lucraft, Commercial Director, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for NHS Direct as it enables people to access health information on the go. To start with, we’re launching the service as a pilot through our Freeview digital TV service, available on channel 108, to test the technology and gauge usage before promoting it to a wider audience. “There are now more active mobile phone connections than UK residents and 84% of UK adults use a mobile phone regularly*, so the service has a huge potential audience. Significantly, mobile phones are now used by all sections of society, and there is evidence that mobile phone usage is higher amongst hard-to-reach social groups. “Further developments to the SMS text messaging service will be added soon, including health alerts, a feedback option and the opportunity to get involved with helping NHS Direct to improve the quality of the service. Users are charged their standard rate for texts (however, network charges may vary), and NHS Direct covers the cost of the replies.