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PCT is stuck with OOH firm

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT looks likely to have little choice but to continue with its out-of-hours contract with private provider SERCO, despite undertaking a 20-day review.

The PCT is reviewing the con-tract, which still has two years to run, because of continuing concerns about the service. Last week concerns reached Parliament with MPs holding a spe-cial debate on the service in Westminster Hall.

However, the PCT was unable to detail what alternative

services it could put in place

if SERCO was found not to be fulfiling its contract. 'We have not ruled out any possibilities,' a spokesperson said.

SERCO took over from GP

co-operative KernowDoc, which had been providing the service for nine years, in April 2006 because it could provide it more cheaply.

Dr Andy Stewart, a GP in Callington and Gunnislake, east Cornwall, who was one of the founders of KernowDoc, said he did not think GPs would now want to step in and take over. 'I don't think anyone would be prepared to,' he said.

Ninety per cent of GPs believe the quality of the out-of-hours service has worsened since SERCO took over, a survey by MP for Falmouth Julia Goldsworthy found.

The survey by the Liberal

Democrat MP also found that

nearly 80 per cent of the 70 GPs who replied were receiving more complaints about out-of-hours services since SERCO took over.

Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro and St Austell, told the

debate in Westminster Hall last week that formal complaints had risen from four a month to up to 27 a month.

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