It’s been a tough year for out-of-hours services. Defunding and increasing recruitment problems have meant many providers are struggling to keep their heads above water.
But Urgent Health UK chair Dr Simon Abrams is leading the charge to improve the quality of care in out-of-hours services – and there are signs of success and of how resilient these services are.
This year Urgent Health UK has reached a record number of members, with more than 30 organisations joining. He says: ‘I believe this is because we have demonstrated to future and current members we can deliver, principally by raising the quality of care of members’ services through external audit and influencing the national urgent care agenda.’
Dr Abrams may seem to have his work cut out in striving for safer out-of-hours services. But he says a Pulse investigation which revealed that serious incidents increased by 26% on last year ‘may well reflect an improved safety culture’ as ‘CCGs are becoming more risk aware and changing their reporting requirements’.
Indeed, a recent CQC report on the state of urgent primary care services found that most have been rated ’good’ or ‘outstanding’ despite systems pressures . Dr Abrams cites the release of the report as a ‘favourite moment’.
He also has a hand in drawing up the state-backed indemnity scheme, promised by the Government after UHUK ‘lobbied hard for a resolution to high indemnity rates for out-of-hours work’. He says that although the scheme will not solve the GP workforce crisis, it ‘will alleviate one of the barriers to recruitment’.
Raising the standards of out-of-hours care
What he says:
‘I’m hardworking and hard work – I put in the hours and at times people find me challenging to deal with’
Had a very impressive cucumber crop in his allotment this year – harvesting 12 cucumbers every three days