By Gareth Iacobucci
PCTs and out-of-hours providers who fall short of national benchmarking standards are to be named and shamed under new plans to drive up standards of care.
The Primary Care Foundation is planning to publish names of trusts and out-of-hours providers, and patient feedback, as part of the next phase of its NHS-funded national benchmarking scheme.
The plan is outlined in the group’s latest report, which analyses the lessons learned from the first phases of its benchmarking scheme.
It comes as the inquest into the death of a patient given a fatal overdose by German locum GP Dr Daniel Ubani has prompted renewed calls from the Conservatives for GPs to take back ‘collective responsibility’ for out-of-hours care.
Although benchmarking information has so far been anonymised, it has exposed huge variations in the cost and quality of out-of-hours services.
The latest report warns many providers are missing ‘potentially urgent’ cases and suggests there is an ‘adverse impact’ where out-of-hours services are split between providers: ‘The next benchmark, planned for mid 2010, we expect to be open rather than anonymous. We are confident greater openness will help both commissioners and providers improve their services.’
Henry Clay, director of the Primary Care Foundation, said: ‘[At the moment] you have a PCT and provider doing X, Y and Z but can’t tell who they are. That feels daft.’
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman warned the mounting criticism over out-of-hours did not mean GPs should take back responsibility for cover, saying that would be ‘dangerous to patients’.
‘The BMA wants to see PCTs commission out-of-hours care with the involvement of local GPs. There also needs to be better investment and more rigorous monitoring, but there must not be a return to the system we had before the new contract.’
‘That would just mean replacing the current, poor system with a potentially dangerous one.’
Out-of-hours care has been under intense scrutiny