[holding answer 25 March 2009]: While no formal estimate has been made by the Department of the number of people attending accident and emergency departments who could have been treated by their general practitioner, Professor Sir George Alberti—former National Director for Emergency Access—has suggested this could be around 50 per cent. in some areas. This is an issue the Department expects to look at as part of its continuous programme to improve access to health services.
It is a matter for the local national health service, along with its strategic health authorities and other interested bodies to plan, develop and organise local services that are responsive to people’s needs. What is important is that patients have access to the most appropriate care in a timely manner.