Out-of-hours doctor services to increase

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 July 2012

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MORE out-of-hours GPs will be available in North Somerset from 2013 after a report revealed only one doctor covers the entire district between 11pm and 5am.

North Somerset Primary Care Trust says provisions will be made for more night-time GPs in the district when the service is transferred to a new contractor next April.

North Somerset Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel has suggested that more provisions for out-of-hours doctors should be made as a key recommendation in a report.

Its review took place after residents voiced concerns about current provisions in the area.

Out-of-hours GP services currently run in North Somerset from 6.30pm-8.30am from Monday to Friday and from 6.30pm Friday until 8.30am Monday.

A spokesman for North Somerset PCT said: “Harmoni, our current providers of out-of-hours services, uses an appropriate staff mix including GPs and advance nurse practitioners to meet the needs of North Somerset’s patients overnight.

“The level of service for out-of-hours cover matches the demand and North Somerset has the best record of patient satisfaction of any PCT on whose behalf Harmoni undertakes out-of-hours cover.”

Until April 2013, she said, the current system will remain in place, adding: “The system will continue as it has been for six years.”

“Under the current contract, call handlers follow a strict script to assess a patient, before calls are prioritised. If life-threatening, 999 is called.

“If deemed urgent, a clinician will call back within 20 minutes.

“Routine calls get a response within an hour and patients must be seen within six hours if routine and four if urgent, and if it becomes serious, an ambulance is called.”

From April 2013, Brisdoc will take over the service for five years after it won the rights to take on the contract.

The company has already provided out-of-hours care in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Jo Underwood, associate director of urgent care at NHS Bristol, NHS North Somerset and NHS South Gloucestershire, said: “GP out-of-hours services are crucial to providing the public with safe and reliable access to urgent care 24/7.

“We were looking for extremely high standards of quality, safety and accessibility, and a proven track record of delivery, which we are confident Brisdoc will deliver.”

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