Minister: 'Access to out-of-hours care not good enough'

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"Access to out-of-hours care is not good enough" and the government will look at how this care is provided, Health Minister Earl Howe told the Lords on 21 May 2013.

Health Minister Earl Howe repeated, as a statement, the answer to a Commons urgent question on problems in accident and emergency (A&E).

He said that "on the whole the NHS was performing well" and meeting its four-hour-target in A&E, but a more "joined-up system" was needed and information about patients needed to be shared.

He went on to say "GPs have an important role to play in this" but that the government recognised the need for GPs to have a family and they would not be consistently on call.

Speaking for the opposition, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath blamed the "crisis" in the NHS on the reduction in nurses and the pressure to bring in the 111 urgent care helpline number "too soon".

A&E attendance has risen by 50% in a decade and this winter the NHS in England started missing its four-hour waiting time target.

Pressures have been noted in other parts of the UK too.

Ministers and the NHS regulator have admitted that the problems are a cause for concern.

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