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Out-of-hours opt-out has hit hospitals

23rd May 2011

Doctors have warned that the amount of children attending A&E departments has considerably increased since GPs decided not to provide out-of-hours care.

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A decade ago, GPs opted out of the provision of out of hours care and private companies were drafted in to offer treatment.

Doctors at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham wrote in Emergency Medical Journal that the number of children who were taken to A&E with 'common medical problems' had risen by 42% over a ten year period.

The researchers looked at the medical data for children aged under 15 who had been brought to the emergency medical department of the hospital between February 2007/08.

They then drew comparisons with information collected ten years earlier.

Over the course of a decade, the amount of patients brought to the children’s emergency department had remained around the same, but the number with common problems increased.

In total, 39,394 children were seen in 2007/08 and of this number 14,724 had medical problems. By comparison, in 1997 38,982 children seen overall and 10,369 had medical problems.

Ten common medical problems made up 85% of the visits, which included problems breathing, fevers, diarrhoea, diarrhoea and vomiting, rashes and coughs.

The amount of patients who attended for each of these conditions were roughly the same in both 1997 and 2007/08, with the exception of breathing difficulties.

"Over a 10-year period, attendances to the paediatric emergency department have remained similar; however, there has been a disproportionate rise in the number attending with medical conditions," the authors wrote.

"The presenting problems also remain similar, although there has been a significant reduction in those presenting with difficulty in breathing," they added.

 

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