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GP out-of-hours opt-out threatens bed day target

Elderly people are being needlessly admitted to hospital because of disruptions to out-of-hours care caused by the GP opt-out, MPs have heard.

The British Geriatric Society claimed in evidence to the health select committee that patients were now often treated by out-of-hours practitioners unfamiliar with their needs.

Many took the safe option by admitting patients to hospital as emergencies.

Dr David Oliver, honorary secretary of the society and a consultant physician in geriatric medicine, told Pulse: 'In the past, these patients would often have spoken to their own GP, who would have known their individual needs and in many cases arranged a home visit the next day.'

He warned the trend would endanger the Government's target to cut hospital bed days by 5 per cent by 2008.

'If an older person arrives confused and vulnerable at an A&E at 9pm you have not got a hope of getting them home. Some would stay five or six days,' Dr Oliver said.

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