Doctors' out-of-hours festive figures

While doctor's surgeries closed over the festive period it was down to the out of hours service to deal with the county's medical needs.

While doctor's surgeries closed over the festive period it was down to the out of hours service to deal with the county's medical needs.

And despite putting on extra staff in preparation for a busy Christmas, the number of calls in 2006 was almost identical to last year.

Anglian Medical Care, the company contracted by Norfolk Primary Care Trust to provide out of hours GPs, said while figures for people going to casualty had increased they had not seen a similar rise in the number of patients.

Spokesman Matthew Ware said: “We did have extra GPs and emergency medical care practitioners on-call for the four-day festive period as obviously the number of calls we get normally will double.

“But most of the time our doctors can offer advice over the phone or tell them there's nothing to worry about.

“It's only very occasionally that someone will go out to visit a patient.

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“If it is that serious they generally need to go to hospital so an ambulance should be called as well.

“That could be why the A&E had an increase which we didn't feel.”

On Christmas Eve there were 1,760 calls compared to last year's 1,700.

Christmas Day saw 969 calls compared to last year's 956. Although the final figures are still to be confirmed, New Year's Day this year appears to have had 1,500 calls - 12 more than last year's 1,488.

The only major increase was on Boxing Day which saw 2,190 calls compared to last year's 1,490 - which Mr Ware said was due to the fact that because Christmas followed a weekend, surgeries had been closed for longer than last year.

While Anglian Medical Care refused to comment on how much the extra staff and festive fees cost the PCT, the organisation did reveal that only 10pc of people working were from an agency as many GPs had volunteered to cover.