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RCGP launches urgent care toolkit to improve care and cut costs

By Laura Passi

The RCGP has published a new toolkit to help GP consortia audit the quality of urgent care services in their area, in a bid to improve patient care and help achieve efficiency savings.

The toolkit, funded by the Department of Health, is expected to be used by consortia on a quarterly basis to ensure they can montor the quality and consistency of all providers of urgent care, including out-of-hours serivces, emergency departments, walk-in centres and GP practices.

Professor Matthew Cooke, clinical director of urgent and emergency care at the Department of Health, said the toolkit was ‘well-placed to support greater consistency and reliability of care across these different settings’.

‘We would like to see the urgent and emergency care clinical audit toolkit adopted by all urgent care providers to ensure a seamless, safe and effective journey for all patients wherever urgent care is provided,’ he added.

The toolkit is intended to enable consortia to conduct routine clinical audits of urgent care providers, which have so far been hampered by IT problems and concerns about costs.

The report states: ‘Now more than ever, there is increased pressure to improve clinical effectiveness and reduce unnecessary cost associated with healthcare provision.’

‘Effective clinical auidit constitutes the single most important method which any healthcare provider can use to understand and improve the quality of the service that is being provided, and is one of the key methods by which all organisations providing services to NHS patients can deliver clinical and cost effectiveness.’

Pilots of the toolkit were funded by the Department of Health and took place over eight weeks at 17 urgent care providers.

The checks will be carried out by an ‘audit team’, including an audit lead, coordinating the checks, an education lead, responsible for feedback and an IT lead, maintaining the information database.

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said audits of this nature would become increasingly important as consortia took on responsibility for commissioning urgent care.

‘We would urge all those responsible for care in these areas to routinely use this toolkit for their auditing,’ she said.

The toolkit is available for download here.

Emergency care