GPs central to quality of out-of-hours care

GP-led commissioning is vital to ensuring the quality and safety of out-of-hours care, according to RCGP clinical commissioning champion Dr Agnelo Fernandes.

Dr Agnelo Fernandes: patients like to have someone they recognise as their doctor co-ordinating care
Dr Agnelo Fernandes: patients like to have someone they recognise as their doctor co-ordinating care

But he warned that GPs could not be expected to carry out all aspects of patient care – a team approach was needed to bring together the most competent health professionals to carry out each task.

‘We need to have continuity of care, but that does not necessarily mean that the same person does everything for the patient,’ Dr Fernandes said.

‘Patients would like to have someone they recognise as their doctor but that doctor could be co-ordinating the care as opposed to doing it all themselves.’

Dr Fernandes was the author of the college’s recently published guidance on commissioning integrated urgent and emergency care. But he does not see the transfer of commissioning power to GPs meaning a return to out-of-hours co-operatives.

‘I personally think we made a mistake in giving up out-of-hours but we cannot go back. There is a different workforce now who are not used to doing it.

‘And in terms of co-operatives, they were a way of doctors providing a service to other
doctors by covering their work. The ethos now is about providing a service to patients.’

Dr Fernandes said the challenge for clinical commissioning groups would be to give patients access to the right care provider, at the right time, with the right competencies – ensuring consistency of information and assessment wherever they accessed the NHS.

‘Commissioning is the key to ensuring the quality and safety of the service. It overarches
everything that we do.’

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