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Co-ops don't cut A&E attendance

Out-of-hours GP co-operatives do not reduce attendance rates at A&E, a Government-funded study has suggested.

Researchers at Queen Mary University London examined six-monthly A&E attendance data between 1994 and 2000 for patients from 42 practices in Tower Hamlets, London.

The results, presented at the Quality and Inequality in Healthcare conference in Glasgow last month, showed a 'significant upward trend' in A&E attendances for all practices, despite the establishment of a local co-op during that period. Attendance rates rose from 9.3 per 100 people in 1994 to 12.6 per 100 in 2000.

There was also no significant difference in rates between practices that joined the co-op and those that did not.

The study authors concluded: 'These findings do not support the view that GP co-operative services, even when located within an A&E department, form a substitute for the provision of these services from a hospital base.'

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