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Telephone consultations by nurses or GPs fail to satisfy many patients and could lead to an increase in repeat visits to practices, research suggests.
A Cochrane Library literature review found three out of nine studies showed telephone triage reduced the immediate need to see a GP.
But two studies found a significant increase in the number of return visits to GPs by people whose problems had not been resolved.
Author Dr Geraldine Byrne, principal lecturer in nursing at Hertfordshire University, said the studies suggested telephone consultations were useful but more research was needed.
She said: 'It's not clear how far patients are getting what they want.'
In one of the studies, the introduction of a nurse-led telephone triage system led to increased attendance at A&E from patients who used the service.