NHS failing on out of hours care

Many of the United Kingdom's National Health Service trusts are failing to meet core standards over the care of patients needing out-of-hours general practitioner services, performance statistics released by the Liberal Democrats show.


  • Nearly half of the trusts do not meet standards in answering patient calls quickly, while a third do not follow the telephone clinical assessment guidelines, which are key to identifying life-threatening conditions.

  • Just over a quarter do not meet standards in starting face-to-face consultations on time, while 23 per cent struggle on sending details of out-of-hours consultations to day-time general practitioners by 8am the next working day.

  • The latest data adds weight to the argument of critics, showing primary care trusts are struggling to ensure their providers keep to official standards.

    "These very disturbing statistics show that many primary care trusts are failing to meet standards of care which the government itself says is crucial. Out-of-hours care looks at potentially life and death situations. Answering calls quickly and providing a swift and accurate phone diagnosis can save lives," said Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

    Source: NHS 'failing on GP out-of-hours,' BBC, September 11, 2007.

    For text: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6989666.stm

    For more on Health Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=16

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 18 September 2007
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