'Out of hours is not working'

Do not listen to the BMA’s assertion that everything is right with the out-of-hours service, was the advice given to GPs attending the first RCGP national conference in Edinburgh today, by former chief executive of the NHS Executive, Sir Alan Langlands.

Sir Alan, who is now principal and vice chancellor of the University of Dundee, said the BMA ‘is missing the point’ on out of hours and that the service needed addressing. ‘Out of hours is not working and the public don’t like it.’

He said it was understandable that current political debate centres on productivity, value for money and responsiveness to patients, given that NHS spend as a percentage of GDP was now on a par with other countries.

‘The out of hours has become the first target of this discussion, and rarely have I ever seen the National Audit Office, the CBI, the government and its advisors, other political parties and the public aligned so clearly to say that something must be done to change the current situation.

‘The BMA may pretend that these concerns are minimal, but I think they are missing the point. Something probably has to be done,’ he said, adding that it should be GPs and other members of the primary care team that probably should be doing it.

Also in his keynote speech at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Sir Alan suggested GPs should recognise the limitations of the quality framework and work towards making it more relevant to their patients. He also urged delegates to persevere with current demands and reforms: ‘Try to make practice-based commissioning work for your patients.’


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