£100m boost will favour GP co-ops
The Government has given primary care organisations an extra £100 million to provide out-of-hours services under the new contract.
Much of the cash, to be spread over three years, is expected to go to co-operatives rather than NHS Direct in a major policy shift by ministers.
Health minister John Hutton said services would still be available via a single call to NHS Direct but PCOs would use an 'emergency care network' of other providers including GPs, co-ops, pharmacists, walk-in centres and paramedics.
Dr Mark Reynolds, chair of the National Association of GP Co-operatives, said the news was 'heartwarming'.
'There is now recognition that the people who know how to do it have got to be the people who do it,' he said.