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Weekend TIA patients suffer long delays

Patients who suffer a transient ischaemic attack at the weekend are continuing to face long delays before being assessed and treated.

The GP contract appears to have sped up assessment of patients during normal surgery opening hours, but has had no effect during out-of-hours periods, an analysis reveals.

Researchers warned the system was failing high-risk patients and called for practice-based commissioning to be used to improve diagnostic services in primary care. Following the introduction of the GMS contract, the proportion of patients with a TIA who were seen within 24 hours rose by 21.9%, but there was no equivalent improvement out of hours.

Patients who suffered a TIA on a Saturday were at particular risk of delays, with 76% of those seeing their own GP waiting 48 hours for assessment. Study leader Dr Daniel Lasserson, an academic GP registrar at the University of Oxford who presented the research at last week's Society for Academic Primary Care conference in London, said primary care needed to raise its game.

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