OBJECTIVE:: To characterise the NHS Direct nurse workforce and estimate the impact of NHS Direct on the staffing of other NHS nursing specialties. \ud \ud METHOD: A postal survey of NHS Direct nurses in all 17 NHS Direct call centres operating in June 2000. \ud \ud RESULTS: The response rate was 74% (682 of 920). In the three months immediately before joining NHS Direct, 20% (134 of 682, 95% confidence intervals 17% to 23%) of respondents had not been working in the NHS. Of the 540 who came from NHS nursing posts, one fifth had come from an accident and emergency department or minor injury unit (110 of 540), and one in seven from practice nursing (75 of 540). One in ten (65 of 681) nurses said that previous illness, injury, or disability had been an important reason for deciding to join NHS Direct. Sixty two per cent (404 of 649) of nurses felt their job satisfaction and work environment had improved since joining NHS Direct. \ud \ud CONCLUSION: The NHS Direct nurse workforce currently constitutes a small proportion (about 0.5%) of all qualified nurses in the NHS, although it recruits relatively experienced and well qualified nurses more heavily from some specialties, such as accident and emergency nursing, than others. However, its overall impact on staffing in any one specialty is likely to be small. NHS Direct has succeeded in providing employment for some nurses who might otherwise be unable to continue in nursing because of disability. \u
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