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Independents' Day

Out-of-hours care must have GPs on board

With varying degrees of enthusiasm, PCOs are bracing themselves for

the full weight of out-of-hours responsibility that is headed their way. As they consider their options, they should pay particular attention to new figures that raise major concerns about the health of NHS Direct.

Understaffed and overhyped, the organisation is many nurse-hours away from the capacity it needs to be the single point of contact for all out-of-hours calls that ministers have promised.

GPs are all too familiar with the shortcomings of a service that is still capable of telling a woman whose period is four days late that she needs to see a GP within one hour. Such nonsense can no longer be blamed on teething troubles.

What is clear is that out-of-hours care requires GPs.

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