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Take Care Now loses second out-of-hours contract

By Gareth Iacobucci

An private out-of-hours provider which came under fire over the death of a patient under the care of one of its foreign locum GPs has lost its second contract in a matter of weeks.

NHS Suffolk has announced it will not renew its contract with Take Care Now - which is due to expire in March 2010 - and has chosen Harmoni to take over out-of-hours responsibility in the county.

Take Care Now, which is based in Suffolk, has been under growing pressure following the death of 70-year-old David Gray last year, who died after being given an accidental overdose by German doctor Dr Daniel Ubani, working his first out-of-hours shift in the UK for the company in Cambridgeshire.

The contract is the second lost by the firm in recent weeks, after it had its contract with NHS Cambridgeshire terminated prematurely last month after failing new spot checks.

It follows a damning report on the David Gray case by the Care Quality Commission, which urged PCTs across the country to place closer scrutiny the performance of GP out-of-hours services, or risk failing to spot serious patient safety issues.

Andrew Hassan, medical director at NHS Suffolk, said: ‘The panel felt the arrangements of this provider [Harmoni] for clinical governance were robust and safe, its quality of care arrangements strong, and ideas for improvement and development of a quality service innovative.'

‘We would like to reassure people across Suffolk that during the transition period between service providers, we will make sure that the safety of patients using the service, and their clinical care, remains our top priority.'

A spokesman for Take Care Now said: ‘Take Care Now has expressed disappointment at not having been re-awarded the contract to run the out-of-hours service for NHS Suffolk but has committed to continuing to deliver innovative and patient-centred care in other areas for NHS Suffolk.'

GP out of hours care has been in the spotlight since the death of -year-old David Gray last year

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