The NHS is constructing its own tower of Babel.

The Department of Health is launching the 111 urgent care number, using a triaging system developed by Connecting for Health, with non-clinical staff answering the phone. NHS Direct uses a different system, with clinicians on the phone.

NHS Choices offers information on illnesses and local services. NHS Direct offers information on illnesses.

This is confusing and wasteful. It is difficult to accept that NHS systems providing similar services needed to develop separate triaging systems, or that NHS Choices and NHS Direct should be built and run separately.

When it comes to getting people to use the right phone number, many with English as a first language - let alone as a second - will not understand the distinction between “emergency” and “urgent”. The overlap between NHS Direct and NHS Choices adds to the bewilderment about how to access NHS services.

These systems are each a good idea. But they should be easily intelligible to the public and be lean in their development and operation.

If all this confusion is getting you down you can always call the new NHS Stressline.

Urgent care: confusing jargon – we’ve got your number