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PCTs turn to nurses to run OOH services

Primary care trusts are increasingly turning to nurses ahead of doctors to run out-of-hours services, a Pulse investigation reveals.

A survey of 42 PCTs found almost half of out-of-hours providers now used non-GPs for some face-to-face consultations, while nurses and emergency care practitioners conducted telephone contacts at 65% of providers.

Overall, nurses and emergency care practitioners still only rarely provided face-to-face consultations – accounting for 6% of the total.

But at some PCTs that figure was much higher – at 30% for Warwickshire PCT, 25% for Western Cheshire PCT and 21% for Blackburn with Darwen PCT.

In a separate survey of almost 600 GPs, around 55% said they were aware of their local situation, largely because they worked out-of-hours shifts themselves.

Of these GPs, 64% said their trust was cutting the number of shifts from GPs, and 69% said there were moves to replace on-call doctors with nurses and emergency care practitioners. As many as 71% of GPs said they did not support these moves.

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