CQC Identifies Out-Of-Hours Failings

Failings Identified At GP Out-Of-Hours Services Across The Country

30.04.2014

The first ten Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections of GP out-of-hours services have found a number of serious failings.

Out-of-hours services are offered to people who need medical assistance when their GPs surgery is not open, but are not in need of urgent help at an accident and emergency unit, reports the Daily Telegraph.

But according to the CQC the care provided when surgeries are closed often does not meet the required standards and it has called for nationwide improvement.

One inspection of the South Essex Emergency Doctors Service, which is based at Thurrock Community Hospital and Basildon Hospital, found that many healthcare professionals that were employed for out-of-hours services did not have the necessary Criminal Records Bureau or Disclosure and Barring Service checks that could have evidenced criminal activity.

Chief inspector of general practice at the South Essex Emergency Doctors Service, Professor Steve Field, said: "These inspections mark the first phases in the changes that we are making to inspections of primary medical services, the results of these first inspections show that some services are serving their communities well but others still have some work to do."

But Professor Field's practice was not the only to come under fire, as PELC - a private company that provides out-of-hours cover in London, was also told to make urgent improvements, as medicines were not stored properly.

Jamie Reed, shadow health minister, said: "Patients will be concerned to hear about these failings. The reports risk driving even more patients to turn to A&E out of fear."

However, health secretary Jeremy Hunt hit back at Mr Reed's criticisms, stating that Labour's reforms on out-of-hours inspections had resulted in a number of problems that the coalition has been working to resolve.

Out-of-hours services in the UK have been under increased scrutiny since the death of David Gray, who was treated by German doctor Daniel Ubani on his first night shift.

The 70-year-old was given a fatal overdose of diamorphine in 2008 by Dr Ubani, who is still free to practice in his home-nation of Germany.

Expert Opinion
The failings identified by the CQC inspections are concerning and it is clear that vast improvements need to be made.

“Patients are entitled to safe, good care at all times, regardless of when it is that they fall ill.

“Providing adequate out-of-hours care for non-urgent patients takes pressure off under resourced A&E departments and ensures they can concentrate on providing safe care to those who need it most.

“We hope that the CQC will follow up these initial reviews to ensure improvements are made and that patients are not put at unnecessary risk by inadequate services.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner