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GP practices “should reclaim out-of-hours responsibility”

29 September 2008

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The NHS Alliance has called for GP practices to be given more powers in commissioning and overseeing out-of-hours care.

The independent primary care body welcomed the Healthcare Commission’s report on NHS urgent care, which urges improvements to the system for delivering emergency care.

The NHS Alliance says the report highlights the need for better integration of care between different services – especially for patients with long-term conditions, the elderly and those with disabilities.

“Patients simply want healthcare to be there when they need it and where they need it,” said Dr Michael Dixon, NHS Alliance chairman. “That is what they are entitled to expect – and what we should be delivering.”

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The Alliance believes GP practices are best placed to identify gaps in service provision and to ensure that patients receive the best possible quality of care.

Dr Dixon added: “Most GPs no longer work nights and weekends as well as their daytime duties. It would be impossible and unsafe to bring that back. But that doesn’t mean they ever wanted to give up all responsibility for their patients.

“Practices should reclaim that responsibility. And PCTs should work with them to commission joined-up services that fit the needs of patients – instead of expecting patients to fit into whatever the service decides to provide.”

NHS Alliance

Related story: Out-of-hours care failing to hit national targets