Magazine article Public Finance

MPs Slam Cost of GPs' Out-of-Hours Service

Magazine article Public Finance

MPs Slam Cost of GPs' Out-of-Hours Service

Article excerpt

A committee of MPs has condemned the Department of Health's contracting and negotiation arrangements for GP out-of-hours services as 'scarcely believable', and a concealed pay rise for GPs'.

Giving evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, acting NHS chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers admitted that, more than a year into the new service, the DoH was still uncertain as to whether it wanted out-ofhours services to be open to urgent cases only, or to all.

At this stage we haven't defined whether it's urgent or not... we recognise now that it is an issue,' he said.

The lack of clarity was brought to light in a recent National Audit Office report. This found an Ongoing confusion' amid 'many providers and commissioners' as to whether primary care trusts were expected to contract out-of-hours services to meet all demands, 'no matter how minor the injury or illness' or just those classified as 'urgent'.

Greg Clark, Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells, said it was unclear how the DoH could ensure that the new out-ofhours services offered value for money, if it wasn't even clear what they were supposed to be doing.

The new arrangements replaced services previously the responsibility of GPs, and came in at £70m over budget. …

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