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GPs shouldn't have to compete with private providers to deliver out-of-hours services, say RCGP

The Government should change legislation to allow GPs to run out-of-hours services without having to go through competitive tender, the RCGP has said in a report on out-of-hours services.

The college argues that GPs are blocked from providing out-of-hours services because prohibitive tendering regulations make it difficult for small providers to compete on cost.

The Future of GP Out of Hours Care report argues the Government must tackle barriers, such as restrictions on patient record sharing, which make it harder for GPs to integrate in-hours and out-of-hours services, and to ensure there is adequate funding and workforce planning to allow the expansion of GP out-of-hours services.

It also calls for a single organisation to have responsibility for raising awareness of out-of-hours services, after the latest GP patient survey showed just 45% of patients knew how to access services.

The report recommends: ‘The Department of Health should clarify the legal position of GPs seeking to opt back into the provision of out of hours care, and make legislative changes if necessary to ensure that they are able to do so without the requirement to go through a competitive tendering process.’

Commenting on the report, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘GPs are keen to do more but those who are bidding for new out of hours contracts can find it difficult to compete on cost with bigger companies, some of which have little or no local GP input and involvement with the communities where they want to run services.’

She added: ‘This is not about a return to all GPs working round the clock – that would be unsustainable for GPs and unsafe for patients.’

Government figures revealed in January that under the Coalition GP out-of-hours services had received a 9% real terms pay cut.

Readers' comments (7)

  • 'GPs are keen to do more'
    vs
    'This is not about a return to all GPs working round the clock – that would be unsustainable for GPs and unsafe for patients'

    erm! erm?

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  • Oh dear, oh dear. Everytime you think you might be able to defend the RCGP they do a Lucy on your Charlie Brown.
    I have just read this in detail. Everything in this has been said before and none of their proposals are new either. Really sad how the College is getting increasingly out of touch.

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  • 'GP's want to do more' because it's not as if General Practice is engulfed in paperwork, facing rising demand exceeding resources, dealing with the shifting of unfunded work from secondary care not to mention DES, LES, LIS, QOF, CCG audits etc. Dr Baker is completely out of touch and I have no regrets cancelling my subscription to this spineless college which is increasingly losing its grip on reality faced on daily basis by coalface GP's. Enough of the kowtowing to DOH!

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  • In the good old days, we had GP Coops, run by GPS for Patients.

    We pioneered Nurse Triage supported by computerised Decision Support (Harmoni), OOH centres, phone triage and joint working by GPs to deliver services.

    However the offer of no OOH for £6000 loss ( last GP Contract) meant GP Coops died overnight or transmogrified into the commercial OOH services we have now.

    GPC duplicity and DH stupidity killed the best thing to emerge from GP in 50yrs!!

    Now we have Care UK etc. Have the patients benefited??

    Nick R (ex Harmoni Coop Med. Director)

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  • I paid for 1 year in 1992 to numpty RCGP and not a penny since, saving £12.5K in the process
    I could tell even then they were a total waste of space

    They are now far worse

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  • Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘GPs are keen to do more but ..... She added: ‘This is not about a return to all GPs working round the clock – that would be unsustainable for GPs and unsafe for patients.’ so what is this all about ? forcing GPs to take over OOH whether they like it or not ? sounds like Gvt talking
    Agree completely out of touch- I never paid my subscription , never had any faith in the RCGPs and never will

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  • Everyone should have listened to the GPs who complained about the undervaluing of OOHs at the time of the New Contract, it was almost impossible for any sane person to accept that every hour of OOH was only valued at a little more than £1 per hour.

    If Govt wants to act like an idiot when pricing work they sure ought to expect to be treated like one. It was a one off to allow big business into Primary Care, hasn't worked out too cost effective or successful, now has it?

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