Tool comparing out-of-hours cost and patient experience launched

The cost and patient experience of out-of-hours services across England can be compared using an online tool launched today.

The Primary Care Foundation’s tool includes data from 104 out of the 151 English PCTs and is based on 40 indicators including cost, outcomes, timeliness and patient experience.

It reveals there are 138 out-of-hours cases a year per 1,000 population, and 63.1% of patients rate the service they receive as good or very good. The tool also shows that 47.4% of calls result in advice being given and only 14.4% result in home visits. The average cost per head for an out-of-hours service is £8.72 with each case costing £61.14.

The online tool was developed from the fourth round of the foundation’s national benchmarking exercise which also showed that overall performance of out-of-hours services is improving, reducing the time between a patient making calls and being triaged.

Director of the Primary Care Foundation Henry Clay said: ‘This is a significant step. There are no other areas of healthcare where direct comparison can be made by commissioners, service users and providers of such a range of performance measures, cost and patient perception, nor has it been done before in a way that allows the user to take account of explanatory factors such as deprivation, organisational structure or the nature of the area.

‘Out-of-hours services have been under intense scrutiny for some years following a small number of disastrous incidents. The publication of this report and the online tool not only provides a way of comparing services but also demonstrates a clear commitment to openness in sharing this level of detail. The participants deserve credit for this confidence in their service and willingness to use the information to develop still further.’

The fourth national benchmark started in May 2011 and reviewed performance against the full range of indicators, including a survey of patient experience. None of the 111 pilots were included in the analysis, nor are any users of NHS Pathways.

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