Care Quality Commission criticises PCT out-of-hours commissioning

The Care Quality Commission has hit out at PCTs' commissioning of out-of-hours services, and warned that they should scrutinise providers much more closely.

Health minister Mike O'Brien

The warning comes in the interim report on an incident last year, in which a patient died after being given 10 times the recommented dose of diamorphine by a German locum doctor working for out-of-hours provider Take Care Now (TCN).

The CQC found that TCN has now withdrawn 100mg ampoules of diamorphine, and tightened the security of its drug stores. It also found that one PCT, Cornwall of the Isles of Scilly, has taken steps to enusre that overseas doctors provide evidence of proficiency in English.

But the regulator warned that PCTs needed to 'improve their routine monitoring of out-of-hours services... particularly the quality of the service their patients receive.'

Health minister Mike O'Brien warned that David Colin-Thome, England's national clinical director for primary care at the DoH, would be writing to PCTs in support of the regulator's recommendation.

Dr Colin-Thome and RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field would also be undertaking work to identify 'any additional action that could be taken to strengthen the local commissioning, delivery and monitoring of out of hours services', he said.

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