PCO crackdown on GPs' soaring prescribing bills
Ministers have moved to quell patient fears over the quality of out-of-hours services by demanding new providers have GPs on call at all times.
Launching new quality standards, health minister John Hutton said PCOs must ensure patients have access to a face-to-face consultation with a GP or GP home visit where 'clinically appropriate'.
Mr Hutton named and shamed seven PCOs not meeting the requirements and said the Department of Health had intervened to ensure they did so.
But GPs warned PCOs faced an uphill struggle to tempt them to do on-call
cover because most no longer wanted to work shifts.
The NHS Confederation said it was concerned about
'financial pressures for PCTs' as a result of increased rates needed to entice GPs.
Dr Tony Hillier, medical secretary of Northamptonshire LMC, said GPs in Daventry and South Northamptonshire PCT one of the trusts named were available to do out-of-hours but the trust planned to use paramedics.
He added the Government could not guarantee GPs would work out-of-hours. 'If all GPs in the country decide not to do out-of-hours, how can they say they are going to have doctors?' he said.
Mr Hutton admitted the Government could not force GPs to work out-of-hours, but insisted the 'vast majority' would do on-call work. He said: 'The rates are becoming much more attractive.'
Both Northamptonshire PCTs said the department was wrong and they did use GPs.
·Pay crisis, page 18
Named and shamed
·Lincolnshire South West Teaching PCT
·East Lincolnshire PCT
·North Peterborough PCT
·South Peterborough PCT
·Daventry and South Northamptonshire PCT
·Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT