GPs reject blame for 999 call rise
The GPC has strongly refuted claims that GPs' opt-out from out-of-hours cover is to blame for soaring rates of ambulance call-outs.
Media reports suggest some areas have seen a 20 per cent spike in demand for 999 call-outs over the levels last year.
A series of commentators, including ambulance workers themselves, have blamed GPs, suggesting patients think there is no longer out-of-hours cover.
The row follows claims that the out-of-hours opt-out is also
responsible for a spike in attendance at A&E.
The Ambulance Service Union said: 'There's people thinking that in the night-time there's no GP service so the only option is to ring 999.'
But Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said: 'If there are still impacts happening this year, it says an awful lot more about provision of services by PCTs than the fact there was a change in the agreement.'
Professor Matthew Cooke, a Government adviser on emergency care and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Warwick, said the increase appeared to be in calls – not necessarily in actual emergencies or number of people taken to A&E.
'Nobody has looked in detail at the cause. There may be some element of GPs and out-of-hours but nobody knows.'