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GP out-of-hours services highly rated despite pressures, finds CQC

The majority of urgent primary care services have been rated as good or outstanding despite system pressures, a CQC report has found.

The report, which looked into walk-in and urgent care centres, NHS 111 and GP out-of-hours services in England, found that 128 were rated as 'good' or 'outstanding', while 16 were rated as 'requires improvement' and a further three as 'inadequate'.

The CQC said the high number of positive ratings come despite workforce and financial pressures.

The report said: 'Although CQC does not look at the finances of providers, there is a growing risk in this area, with the value of contracts not reflecting the true costs of delivering them.

It added: 'Recruitment is often difficult as urgent care work is intense, the hours are unsociable and rates of pay cannot compete with the private sector.'

The report continued: 'Interestingly, despite these challenges, our ratings have consistently shown that performance in all services is best for the caring key question.'

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC, said: 'Well-resourced and integrated urgent care not only provides safe, high quality care to people, but can also ease pressure on other areas of the NHS – particularly emergency departments during the winter period and other times of peak demand. These benefits should not be overlooked.

'It is encouraging that the majority of care is rated good or outstanding and important that commissioners and other services recognise the value that urgent care offers as part of integrated care for people in a local area. 

This comes after a lack of available workforce means GP out-of-hours services are 'fragile' across the whole of Wales, a review by the Board of Community Health Councils found.

Meanwhile, Pulse revealed earlier this year that there was a 26% increase in the number of serious incidences reported by GP out-of-hours services to commissioners last year, with GP leaders warning that they are no longer a 'safe pace of work'.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Vinci Ho

    Whether we still believe the rating of CQC is not really important here , it is imperative to address the essential role of our Out of Hour colleagues and the service they have been providing under ‘hostile environment’ (a monopoly terminology owned by this Tory government). It is mission impossible, especially after the introduction of a ethically and conceptual corrupt NHS111 service by the Cameron’s government.
    The fact that OOH service could still gain a high rating on CQC scale should not and must not shy away from the reality that it is severely underfunded and neglected by technocrats. Protagonists of seven day GP opening can say whatever they like but the ‘lip and teetn’ relationship between in-hours and OOH must not create an internal competition for new funding coming into primary care/general practice. Both in-hours and OOH GPs have suffered enough from this morally corrupt austerity in last 10 years. The narrative is no longer about starving one child in a family more to feed the others.....

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  • these OOH organisations may suffer from lack of clinicians, but there is no shortage of back room staff who can tick boxes to look good for CQC.

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  • Vinci Ho

    All I would say , whether you are GP partner , salaried GP , in-hour GP , out-of-hour GP , locum GP , male or female GP, GP trainee, Remember this :

    Martin Niemoller
    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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  • OOHs services are major catastrophes but they are the way to privatisation baby. Nothing to see here, move along please.

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  • Shows how accurate the ratings are. Not from experience it is not.

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  • OOH properly run fills a vital
    role and is of good quality
    It is a rewarding and interesting position for experienced GPS

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  • I strongly disagree that OOH primary care is unsafe. If GP practices honestly reported serious incidents the number reported would rise significantly.
    Often OOH are better at recognising and reporting SI s suggesting good governance and openness
    Some commissioners in my experience demand SIs are reported that do not fit the criteria stating that have ‘local criteria’
    This inflates the OOH SIs reported.
    For experienced clinicians OOH is a rewarding safe working environment free of the CQC and the onerous work of a GP partner with better remuneration
    Sure the hours are anti social but the work is fascinating and at last we see some of the simple as well as complex consultations
    Better IT links to GP records would improve safety further.
    For once I have to agree with the CQC ratings

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