Australia is following North America, the United Kingdom and other developed countries in promoting the use of nurse-led telephone advice services. The core of these services is very similar — nurses follow computer-driven protocols to give advice about a wide range of problems, most of which relate to acute minor illness. In the UK, NHS Direct has been introduced by government to improve access to NHS services and NHS Direct advice is also available on the Internet.1 In this issue of the Journal , Turner and colleagues report for the first time the operation of a nurse-led telephone advice service in Australia, HealthDirect in Western Australia.2 The service has been widely used, with over 300 000 calls being received during the first two years of its operation.
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