DoH recommends GPs help improve out-of-hours services

Local GPs should become more 'involved' in providing and monitoring out-of-hours services, a major government review has recommended.

The government review suggests GPs should help design services
The government review suggests GPs should help design services

A package of measures to improve out-of-hours services in England includes the recommendation that local GPs check the quality of out-of-hours clinicians and help design services.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and LMCs should also attempt to recruit more local GPs to provide out-of-hours services, the report says.

Health minister Mike O'Brien assured GPs this did not mean out-of-hours responsibility would be handed back to the profession.

Recommendations accepted by the DoH also include:

  • New national minimum standards for out-of-hours providers
  • A model contract for PCTs to use when procuring out-of-hours services
  • A national database of all GPs on PCTs' performers lists to help identify problem doctors
  • Guidance to clarify how PCTs assess doctors' standard of English

Mr O'Brien said the variation in out-of-hours services highlighted 'one of the problems with decentralisation' of NHS services, but hoped the new safeguards will be in place by the end of the year.

The review was launched following the case of Dr Daniel Ubani, who on Thursday was found to have unlawfully killed a patient in Cambridge. Dr Ubani had previously been rejected for work by NHS Leeds because his English was so poor.

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field and DoH England clinical director of primary care Dr David Colin-Thomé, who conducted the review, were keen to stress that out-of-hours quality had actually improved since GPs handed over responsibility in 2004. 

Professor Field admitted he found the recent tragedy 'distressing', but said: 'We cannot return to the situation we had before,' admitting he himself had been 'exhausted' and 'lots of mistakes were made', before 2004. 

Editors' Blog: Revealed: the contents of the out-of-hours review (my predictions, at least)

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