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SOME patients are being directed to an IT sales company by GP practices instead of out-of-hours services.

In Fareham and Gosport, four practices recommended calling the old out-of-hours GP number, a Winchester number that now belongs to an IT firm. Patients should be told to call NHS 111.

In Havant and Waterlooville, three practices were still guiding patients to the old number.

Healthwatch Hampshire called all 144 practices in the county – excluding those in Portsmouth and Southampton – to test on five points.

These were calls being answered promptly, messages being clear, , opening hours and emergency and out-of-hours information.

The results have been broken down by the five Clinical Commissioning Groups that are in Hampshire.

Practices in Fareham and Gosport all scored 100 per cent when it came to calls being answered promptly with clearly-audible messages. In south-eastern Hampshire, which covers the Havant area, 96 per cent of practices answered promptly, and 96 per cent had clear recordings.

In Fareham and Gosport, 78 per cent gave details on where to go for an emergency, and 83 per cent provided opening hours times.

In south-eastern Hampshire, 76 per cent gave emergency information and 76 per cent gave opening hours.

Steve Taylor, manager of Healthwatch Hampshire, said: ‘We’re concerned people are turning up to A&E because it’s not clear where else they should go.

‘Often your doctor’s the first port of call, but out of hours it can become confusing.

‘There were some differences on what practices offered, but we hope this will go some way to correcting that.’

Healthwatch has sent a copy of its report to CCG leads and to individual practices, asking them to make changes.

Dr Barbara Rushton, chairman of the South-eastern Hampshire CCG, said: ‘This survey gives us a useful insight into the service being provided to patients seeking care or advice outside normal office hours.

‘We will be discussing the results with all of the practices because we want all surgeries to be giving patients an excellent service.

‘We would always encourage people to use the out-of-hours service by calling 111, rather than heading to A&E, and so we must make that as easy as possible.’