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8 February 2010, 00:00
NHS Suffolk has moved to reassure all local residents that the GP out-of-hours or on-call service is safe.
We have worked proactively with the current providers to develop the service to ensure that patient’s needs are met safely. We will continue to do so with Harmoni HS before and after they begin the new service on the 1st April 2010.
The Coroner at the recent Cambridgeshire inquest made recommendations to the Department of Health. In addition the Department of Health published, on the 4th February 2010, a report into GP out-of-hours care which makes recommendations for improving the system. Each local NHS system is required to implement these recommendations.
NHS Suffolk’s service already meets the national performance requirement of a maximum six hour delay before a clinician contacts a patient for non-urgent issues, and that time will be reduced to four hours under the new Harmoni HS contract, starting in April this year.
Anne Nicholls, Chairman of Suffolk’s health Lay Advisory Group, said:
“Our group, which represents patients and the wider public, has been carrying out independent surveys of the out-of-hours service for the last five years. We have found recent improvements, with 95% of people satisfied with the service. Waiting times have been reduced, standards are high and the service is safe.”
NHS Suffolk already meets the requirement to ensure that doctors on the Suffolk PCT Performers list attain a score of 7 in each of the components of the English Language Testing System which includes academic reading and writing modules. Harmoni will continue to employ Suffolk GPs for the out-of-hours service, making it easier to ensure the doctors’ competence through our robust appraisal process. The new contract will provide for additional bases and for clinicians to be available to see patients more quickly.
NHS Suffolk is leading health service improvement for all the people in Suffolk and is already involving local doctors in ensuring high quality, safe services.