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One OOH GP available for a population of 170,000

16 February 2016

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There were occasions where only one or two out-of-hours (OOH) GPs would be available for 170,270 patients in West Norfolk, Norwich CCG admitted.

This comes after Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk Norman Lamb (pictured) wrote to the Care Quality Commission requesting an urgent and unannounced inspection after he was contacted by a whistleblower within IC24 (Integrated Care 24 – a ‘not-for-profit’ social enterprise), according to Eastern Daily Press.

The CQC told the newspaper it was aware of the concerns over the service provided by IC24 and confirmed it would carry out an inspection “in due course”.

A report was carried out by Norwich CCG late last month, which read:“GPs expressed concerns regarding their ability to continue within the service due to the impact of consistently being moved to cover shortfalls at bases as this is not compatible with their GP in hours and personal commitments.

“GPs expressed that they understood and were happy to cover unexpected shortfalls but this has become the norm. The assessors were made aware of situations when only one or two GPs were available for Norfolk and Wisbech,” it stated.

Consequently, the five OOH bases (Reed House, North Walsham, Norwich, Kings Lynn, Wisbech and Thetford) were visited by two ‘assessors’. These were Dr Victoria Stanley, GP and the CCG clinical governance lead for NHS 111 and OOH, and Karen Watts, head of quality improvement and assurance at the CCG.

IC24 said that there was 11 clinicians on duty alongside the one GP, and they are now ‘actively recruiting’ to all OOH roles, and due to the system-wide GP shortage they are also recruiting for advance nurses and urgent care practitioners to work the service. 

Moreover, the CCG has appointed a senior operational manager who will be responsible for the local 111 and OOH services, in order to improve integration between the two.