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Out of hours care in the community; a shambles or work in progress?
  1. G Hughes
  1. Correspondence to:
 G Hughes
 The Emergency Department, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, Australia; cchdhb{at}yahoo.com

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In the first week of May the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report on out of hours care provided by primary care trusts (PCTs) in England.1 You may have missed the story in the media; it came at the time of local government elections, a cabinet reshuffle, and Rooney’s metatarsal. Media reports described the service as a shambles.

In 2004 about 90% of PCTs in England became responsible for providing night and weekend cover as general practitioners (GPs) gave up an area of practice they had been responsible and accountable for since the dawn of the National Health Service. The NAO report measures the performance of the new system against several quality targets. Among other results, only 2% of services answered a phone call from the public within …

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