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PCT reorganisation could lead to out-of-hours crisis

Reorganisation of PCTs could spark another crisis in out-of-hours care, Which? is warning.

A report from the consumers' group said current levels of care were 'patchy'. It demanded the Department of Health set minimum requirements for services as well as a coherent framework for patient-centred care.

Frances Blunden, principal policy adviser at Which?, said PCT mergers planned for October raised questions over whether problems with services would be sorted out by winter.

She said: 'Change is always disruptive and we really question who's going to be ensuring that quality standards are maintained.'

Which? also demanded NHS Direct be properly resourced to act as an effective first port of call.

Nearly three-quarters of people questioned in research by the group did not know the NHS Direct telephone number and 7 per cent had never heard of the service.

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