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Lansley: PCTs to blame for out-of-hours failings

By Gareth Iacobucci

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has blamed PCTs for a series of high-profile failings in GP out-of-hours services - after being challenged directly on the future of commissioning by a PCT manager.

Responding to a question posed during a live online question-and-answer session on the Government's health White Paper at, the health secretary said many trusts had failed to understand the services they were commissioning, and had neglected their duty to robustly monitor the performance of providers.

Mr Lansley said the Care Quality Commission's recent report into the death of patient David Gray at the hands of German locum GP Dr Daniel Ubani, who had been employed by out-of-hours provider Take Care Now, demonstrated the pressing need for reform to the system. GP out-of-hours services also faced intense scrutiny in the wake of the death of the journalist Penny Campbell in March 2005.

The Government's consultation on its commissioning reforms, launched yesterday, confirmed that GPs will be handed responsibility for commissioning out-of-hours services under the plans, as had been widely forecasted since the coalition Government was elected.

When asked pointedly by a contributor, ‘as a PCT commissioner, do you think I have failed?', Mr Lansley replied: ‘Primary Care Trusts generally have failed to achieve the overall outcomes and quality through commissioning that we need.'

He added: 'Where they have done well local general practice-led commissioning consortia will be able to use those teams in the future, but we need to recognise as we saw in the Care Quality Commission's Report on commissioning out-of-hours service last week, that too often the Primary Care Trust did not understand the service they were commissioning, did not monitor the quality of the service being provided and did not challenge the out-of-hours service provider when things weren't right.'

Andrew Lansley says PCTs must accept the blame for OOH failings Andrew Lansley says PCTs must accept the blame for OOH failings