NHS Direct’s processes to develop the clinical content of its phone-based patient advice and information service have been accredited by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The NICE Accreditation Advisory Committee described NHS Direct’s processes as “rigorous and systematic”.

Clinical content development will play an important role in NHS Direct’s future, supporting the services the organisation has been commissioned to deliver nationally to complement the new non-urgent care number NHS 111.

These services include complex health and medicines information, dental assessment and the nurse assessment element of NHS Direct’s online services.

An NHS Direct statement said NICE accreditation meant that patients using its nationally provided services could be assured that the clinical advice they received was up-to-date and clinically safe.

Accreditation is valid for five years from January 2013.

NHS Direct associate director of clinical information and development, Enid Povey said the organisation is one of the first providers of clinical decision support to get NICE-accreditation.

“We have always taken a very proactive approach to development based on clinician, patient and staff feedback to ensure we can continue to provide the very best service for our patients,” she said.

“This accreditation is a symbol that the work we have undertaken to achieve this is of the highest standard and gives us confidence in the processes for the future.”