Ultimatum to private out-of-hours firm

A private firm responsible for out-of-hours care in Cornwall has been given 20 days to improve its service or face losing its £16.5 million contract.

The ultimatum was given by Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT to Serco, the multinational company that has run Kernow Urgent Care Services (KUCS) since April 2006.

Failure to meet the demands of an improvement plan could even mean that Serco’s contract is terminated, a spokesman for the PCT suggested.

‘We have not ruled out any possibilities.’
The ultimatum was delivered last week after Truro and St Austell Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor secured an emergency debate in the House of Commons on KUCS’ performance. Health minister Andy Burnham promised to take a personal interest in ensuring that the situation was rapidly resolved. The debate followed a series of complaints about Serco which took over the three-year £16.5 million contract from the GP co-op KernowDoc.

In a constituency survey, 90 per cent of GPs told Julia Goldsworthy, Liberal Democrat MP for Falmouth and Camborne, that out- of-hours care had worsened under Serco.

Almost 80 per cent said they now hear more complaints.

A Serco spokesman said: ‘We fully accept the need to improve performance. During the Christmas and New Year period the service we provided was below the standards acceptable.

‘We now have a detailed improvement plan agreed with the PCT.’

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