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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Ministers to blame for child admissions rise

The rise in admissions among children was entirely predictable ('Failure in primary care services blamed for rise in child hospital admissions').

Many of these admissions will have been caused by parents calling NHS Direct or visiting walk-in centres 'just in case'. NHS Direct and walk-in centres are staffed by people without the training or ability to assess these children. They increase parental anxiety by taking the default option of sending the child to hospital. Parents rapidly learn a visit to a walk-in centre or a call to NHS Direct leads to the suggestion that the child be taken to A&E, and so their reaction becomes to take the child to hospital in the first place.

It was the Government that started all of these initiatives and it must take the blame for raising patients' fears and expectations on the one hand while telling the public GPs were overpaid and provided a poor service on the other.

From Dr Dermot Ryan, Loughborough, Leicestershire

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