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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Pneumococcal vaccine set to cut resistance

GPs in Wales are battling against overstretched on-call services and hospitals refusing referrals despite local agreements

GP out-of-hours services in north Wales are to undergo major changes after more than 93 per cent of calls went unanswered on a single day.

Just 731 out of 11,026 calls to Morfa-Doc on December 28 were answered, a study

on the co-operative's performance has found.

Denbighshire local health board, which commissioned Morfa-Doc, refused to criticise the service, saying it had coped well considering the level of demand.

The board blamed the problems on lack of patient education and the fact that many surgeries diverted their calls directly to the out-of-hours service. Practices have now switched back to answer machines.

Dr Gruff Jones, secretary of North Wales LMC, said that practices used to open on holiday mornings to 'take the heat off'.

He added that the health board could still commission GPs to do this as an enhanced service but had not done so.

'You'd expect it to be busy – the guy on-call always gets clobbered. It's a question of getting the message out to the public,' he said.

Strong words

This conference

...deplores some boards' desire to reorganise again and again, resulting in poor communication with GPs and a constant honeymoon effect

...condemns the use of estates strategies as a means of making explicit policy of prejudice against singlehanded practices

...deplores the fact that a doctor's main topic of conversation with colleagues has changed from interesting case histories to boring management details

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