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GPs warn on out-of-hours cash

Local health boards in Wales face a £15 million funding shortfall to implement Government plans for integrating NHS Direct with out-of-hours services, GPs have warned.

Bro Taf LMC claimed the cost of the link-up with co-operatives and deputising services will be £21 million, but the budget for NHS Direct in Wales currently stands at

£6 million.

Cardiff GP and medical adviser to NHS Direct Wales Dr Allan Jones admitted that meeting the Welsh assembly's out-of-hours plan would require 'substantially increased investment'.

The plan produced last year, said future funding to link co-ops and NHS Direct would be routed through local health boards, which would commission out-of-hours services. But no funding has been allocated so far.

In two pilot programmes where NHS Direct Wales took calls routed from co-ops in Gwynedd and Gwent, home visit rates have falled by one third.

Dr Jones said that nurses at the pilot involving Gwent

Urgent Primary Care have dealt with 35 per cent of calls without the need to involve GPs .

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