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OOH contract ultimatum

A second out-of-hours provider has been told by the PCTs buying its services to implement wide-ranging improvements or risk losing its contract.

The news came as the RCGP criticised out-of-hours services generally as 'confusing, fragmented, and of highly variable quality' and warned urgent action was needed to restore confidence in provision.

Urgent Care 24, a not-for-profit organisation, has been told by Liverpool, Sefton and Knowsley PCTs that it must improve its staff training, operating and reporting procedures, and demonstrate its triage procedures by April.

The PCTs told Pulse they would take up their option of putting Urgent Care 24's contract out for re-tender in October if adequate improvement is not shown within a month.

The move follows a similar review of out-of-hours contractor SERCO by Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly PCT.

Dr Rob Barnett, Liverpool LMC secretary, said: 'The LMC is aware of the fact that a number of GPs and practices have expressed concern at the way the organisation is run as well as the way the service has responded to requests from patients out of hours.'

The GMC is leading the investigation into the death from cardiomyopathy of a patient under UC24's care.

Nigel Wylie, UC24 chief executive, said: 'The PCTs conducted what I believe to be a very thorough and extensive review of the service provided by us and highlighted a number of further improvements they want to see.

'We're pleased to report most of those are of an operational reporting nature, not of clinical safety and clinical care.'

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