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£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.

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