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NHS Direct tops GP list of services to scrap

By Ian Quinn

The NHS Direct service should be scrapped to save money in the wake of the financial crisis, without impacting on care, GPs have demanded.

A motion at today's annual LMCs conference was also passed calling on costly IT projects, such as the summary care record, to be abandoned, as the NHS faces huge cutbacks to frontline services.

The motion also called on the GPC to highlight the huge cost of Darzi centres and walk in centres in talks with the new Government.

It comes after Pulse revealed this week that the NHS spent £123m on NHS Direct this year, despite huge concerns among GPs over the quality of the service.

GPC chair, Dr Laurence Buckman, said|: ‘If I was running the government then I would get rid of NHS Direct.'

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, told the conference: ‘NHS Direct cost £150m last year. The NHS programme for IT cost £12.2bn. Each PCT has been ordered to have a Darzi centre at an estimated cost of £1m each. That's another £100m.'

Dr Watson added that walk in centres are more than three times more expensive than general practice per patient.

Dr John Pickard of Devon LMC, described Darzi centres as an ‘extreme luxury' the NHS could no longer support.'

The conference also passed a series of motions calling on GPs to be given a central role in decided which services should be cut and which should be protected from the axe.

scrapping NHS Direct will save millions Dr Nigel Watson