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Co-ops are hit by helpline crashes

GP co-operatives testing links with NHS 24 are being put under huge pressure as a result of repeated computer crashes at the nurse-led helpline.

Ayrshire Doctors On Call, which linked up with the Scottish version of NHS Direct at the end of May, said a recent Saturday crash had meant patient details having to be faxed to the co-op.

Dr David Watts, co-op chief executive and a GP in Dundonald, said co-op staff had been put under 'considerable stress' as a result of the problems, but patients had not been affected.

He said: 'There are always going to be occasions when computers fail and we have to make arrangements to cope. The crashes are more often than we would like, but systems are always going to crash.'

The problems are the latest in a series of glitches in the roll-out of NHS 24. As with NHS Direct in England, the helpline has come under fire from GPs for inappropriate referrals and delays in answering calls.

A spokeswoman for NHS 24 said its computer systems 'are stable and performing well'.

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