People don't know where to get out-of-hours careWhich? finds services are 'inconsistent'

05 April 2007

As GP surgeries prepare to shut down for four days over the Easter weekend, new research from Which? shows that many people don’t know where to go for out-of-hours care.

In the last year, a third of adults (32 per cent) have called on out-of-hours care. Two in five (38 per cent) called NHS Direct while one in five (19 per cent) opted to go to Accident and Emergency (A&E). Just one in ten (11 per cent) called their GP’s out-of-hours service and only one in a hundred (1 per cent) visited a pharmacy.

Frances Blunden, health campaigner, Which? says: 'Our research shows inconsistent and patchy of out-of-hours services, which are often hard to access and are failing to meet the needs of those who are seeking care.

'People don’t know where and when services are available, what type of situations they are suitable for and how to access them.'

Easter advice

Which? is helping people to prepare for the Easter break with the following advice on out-of-hours care:

  • Ensure that you have a well stocked medicine cabinet
  • Make sure that you have the number of NHS Direct (0845 4647) or, if you live in Scotland, NHS 24 (08454 242424)
  • Contact your GP surgery to find out the number of your local out-of-hours service and research what out-of-hours options there are in your local area
  • Don’t forget the pharmacy. Pharmacists are able to offer valuable advice and many pharmacies – especially those in large supermarkets and shopping centres – will be open over the bank holiday.