GPs are cheaper than NHS Direct

NHS Direct is not providing value for money or easing pressure on GPs, the GPC says.

Figures released in parliament by health minister Ben Bradshaw show that the helpline's cost per call was more than £25.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'There is still too little evidence that NHS Direct relieves pressure on GP or hospital services.'

He said that the BMA estimates the cost of a GP visit at between £20 and £25.

But NHS Direct commercial director Ronnette Lucraft said the figures were 'crude' and did not take other calls NHS Direct handles into account, such as Choose and Book appointments and out-of-hours triage.

The real cost to the taxpayer was more like £16 per call, or £2.50 per person per year, said Ms Lucraft.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com.

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