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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Safety alert over OOH

Putting PCTs in charge of out-of-hours care has put patients' lives at risk, a senior GP has warned Gordon Brown.

Dr Krishna Korlipara, a member of the GMC and founder of Britain's first GP co-operative in Bolton in 1977, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister-elect.In it he claims that the previously 'excellent' care provided by GPs 'has been replaced with a fragmented service provided by PCTs that have had no previous experience or expertise in out-of-hours care'.The warning came as Islington PCT confirmed it would continue to use out-of-hours provider Camidoc, which was heavily criticised two weeks ago in a report investigating the death of 41-year-old Penny Campbell.The inquiry, which exonerated six of the eight GPs involved in the case, found that an overcomplicated IT system and 'seriously flawed' safety procedures were to blame for Miss Campbell's death.Rachel Tyndall, chief executive of Islington PCT, said Camidoc would see out its current contract, which ends in March next year. 'Islington PCT will be putting the contract out to tender, as a matter of good practice, to allow all providers in the marketplace to compete for the contract,' she said.But a spokesperson for Islington PCT confirmed that the contract would have been put out to tender in any event, and that Camidoc would be allowed to re-bid for the contract.Meanwhile, in a separate incident, an out-of-hours service in Scotland has been criticised after a patient was told to take paracetamol less than three hours before he died from acute haemorrhagic pancreatitis.The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman ruled that a receptionist working for the NHS Lothian service did not pass on key patient information, a GP failed to take a comprehensive medical history and the service itself did not respond appropriately to a subsequent complaint from the patient's fiance.Speaking to Pulse, Dr Korlipara said PCOs that had identified faults with an out-of-hours provider should take immediate action.'PCTs have got get-out clauses,' he said. 'Where there is a problem they have to give notice.'He also claimed that private out-of-hours providers were likely to provide a poorer service. 'In a commercial service they are motivated by profit and delivering the service is just a means to make their profit,' he said.

snowottny@cmpmedica.com

• Dr Korlipara's open letter, page 22

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