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Independents' Day

Patients in the dark over out-of-hours

Patients are confused about where they can get out-of-hours care while their GP surgery is closed over Christmas.

Research by Which? found one in three people would go to A&E, regardless of what was wrong with them.

Only 30 per cent of 1,367 adults questioned knew how to contact their GP out-of-hours organisation directly.

Just 39 per cent were aware of walk-in centres and only 21 per cent were aware of minor injury units.

The survey also found NHS Direct was failing to provide a consistent and effective service.

'Inconsistencies in the quality of care, response times and advice, and consumer confusion over its purpose risk NHS Direct being seen as an obstacle on the path to care,' Which?


Dr David Lloyd, a GP in Harrow, Middlesex, and director of Harmoni out-of-hours service, said the problems stemmed from misconceptions that there was no GP out-of-hours care.

Patients who wanted to see

a GP out of hours then faced barriers in accessing the service, he added.

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