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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Out-of-hours opt-out is heading for the rocks

Scotland's nurse-led helpline NHS 24 has come under fire after latest figures revealed it was referring around two-thirds of all its out-of-hours calls on to another service.

During August NHS 24 received 68,810 calls during its out-of-hours period, but of these 42,500 were referred on to a GP, A&E unit or ambulance service.

Scottish MSP David Mc-Letchie has spoken out in the Scottish media about the figures, questioning the value of the £50-million-a-year helpline if it could only deal with around a third of the calls.

NHS 24 medical director Dr Brian Robson said the third of out-of-hours contacts without referral had 'significantly reduced out-of-hours pressures on GP services in particular'.

He added: 'We are committed to working in partnership both locally and nationally to improve our service in order that our contribution to patient care is even greater in the future.'

During July the service dealt with 85,616 calls, the highest monthly rate since its launch two years ago.

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