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The first 300 patients referred from 11 participating general practices (GPs) to the Hoarse Voice Clinic, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, were studied prospectively to estimate the accuracy of GPs' diagnosis of laryngeal symptoms and to assess whether the provision of a direct referral immediate access service for the assessment of persistent laryngeal symptoms is an effective way of ensuring early referral and detection of laryngeal cancer. The GPs' assessment of laryngeal symptoms was inaccurate. Diagnosis after the initial clinic visit was accurate, predicting all histological cases of cancer. Laryngoscopy was possible in all patients at the first clinic visit. Disease requiring admission for direct laryngoscopy and biopsy was found in 39 patients (14%). Ten (3.3%) were found to have laryngeal cancer, of which eight were early lesions. When seen in the clinic 102 (34%) had normal voices and larynxes. A hoarse voice is a symptom requiring specialist assessment. By using the flexible fibreoptic nasendoscope all patients larynxes can be seen in clinic, an accurate diagnosis quickly made and the appropriate management instigated. It is feasible to offer this service without appointments to patients with persistent hoarseness.