GP out-of-hours group pulls out of Serco talks

Devon's GP out-of-hours provider has pulled out of talks to take over the service in neighbouring Cornwall as a subcontractor for current provider Serco.

Serco: Devon Doctors pulls out of subcontractor talks

Serco said last week it was looking to hand over clinical elements of the out-of-hours service it runs in Cornwall to another provider.

A statement from Devon Doctors said it had now withdrawn from negotiations with Serco.

‘We remain firmly of the belief that our model of social enterprise and GP practice ownership would have resulted in an improved service in the county. Unfortunately, contractual negotiations between Serco and the commissioning body, NHS Kernow, were not successful.

‘We are disappointed that our offer of support will not be pursued. However, Devon Doctors respects the decision made by NHS Kernow and will now redouble its efforts to maintain and improve the standards of GP out-of-hours and urgent care across its home county.’

Local MP Andrew George (Liberal Democrat, West Cornwall) has said Serco should ‘hand back the keys if they can't do the job’ and called for the service to be ‘reintegrated’ with the rest of primary care by the CCG.

But chair of Cornwall and Isles Of Scilly LMC, Dr Peter Merrin, said local GPs would not be able to take over the service.

‘At present Cornish GPs have no organisational structure that can deliver that help. Our colleagues in Devon Doctors have a well organised and mature organisational structure run by GPs and are ideally placed to explore the commercial possibilities of collaborating with Serco.’

GPs were struggling to cope with the workload 'in-hours', said Dr Merrin. ‘So the thought of opting into out of hours would be unpalatable to most GPs’.

A CQC report in 2012 found Serco had failed to meet quality and safety standards. The firm failed to employ enough skilled staff to meet the needs of patients and failed to protect patients by not training all staff in safeguarding protocols and not making locum GPs aware of local protocols.

Serco said at the time that it had taken 'swift and decisive action to resolve problems with the service. This month, the company's director for its service in Cornwall, Dr Louis Warren, announced Serco was looking to improve integration with other providers through subcontracting clinical elements of the service. 

Kernow CCG’s director of operations Andrew Abbott said it was looking at ways to improve out-of-hours care and was considering suggestions from Serco.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP appointment

General practice delivered 342m appointments in 2022 - and lost nearly 500 GPs

General practice in England delivered around 342m appointments in total in 2022 with...

NHS sign

Local GPs unite to take over two practices run by hospital trust

GPs in Swindon have come together to take over two practices that had spent more...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Why are junior doctors preparing to strike?

Talking General Practice speaks to BMA GP trainee committee chair Dr David Smith...

Money

Practices face losing out on QOF income amid soaring demand

GP practices risk losing out on QOF income this year because sky-high demand for...

Nurse giving older man a COVID-19 vaccine

JCVI recommends targeted COVID-19 vaccination programme in 2023

People at higher risk of severe COVID-19 should be offered a booster vaccination...

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay leaving number 10 Downing Street

Government sets out plans for 'major conditions' health strategy

The government is to set out a strategy to tackle six 'major' health conditions in...