Older people living in the most deprived areas of England have the highest rate of calls to NHS Direct shows research published recently in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society. Researchers from Sheffield and NHS Direct in Southampton investigated how older people’s use of NHS Direct, the 24-hour telephone health advice and information service in England and Wales, varies according to geographical location and deprivation. They analysed calls to all 32 NHS Direct contact centres in England/Wales from people aged 65 years and above who used NHS Direct over a twelve-month period from 1st December 2007 to 30th November 2008. There were 402,959 calls made to NHS Direct by, or on behalf of, people aged 65 years and over during the study period. The majority of the calls (89.7%) were concerning actual symptoms, 3.8% were dental calls, 2.9% medicine enquiries, 0.9% health information enquiries and 2.6% other. Dr Peter Bath from the University of Sheffield and a study author said: “The higher use of NHS Direct in deprived areas may indicate difficulties in accessing primary, and possibly secondary, care services; this might be due to lower proportions of English speakers in these areas.”