Urgent investment needed to alleviate 'intense resource and workforce pressure' on GP out-of-hours services, says RCGP

Publication date: 03 May 2019

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to an investigation about out-of-hours GP services.

She said: "Patients should be able to access safe, high-quality care whenever they need it through routine GP services and GP out of hours services - and these services should be well-resourced and staffed appropriately by both clinical and non-clinical workers, to meet demand.

"GP services are operating under intense resource and workforce pressures across the board – but this investigation reveals just how much GP out of hours services in some areas are struggling, and it is particularly alarming that in some areas, shifts are being run without a GP.

"This poses a real safety risk not only to our patients, but also to overworked staff who run the risk of becoming burnt-out as they struggle to cover empty shifts. It is also unacceptable that GPs and our teams working out of hours are undoubtedly being forced to make decisions about which seriously ill patients need their help the most.

"We have welcomed the recent introduction of a state-backed indemnity scheme in England and Wales, as we know these costs were a barrier for GPs choosing to work out of hours. But it is clear from this report that we still need to see urgent investment in all GP out-of-hours services and for them to be better integrated with our routine services so that patients are confident they can receive the care they need, regardless of when they fall ill.

"It is the responsibility of individual Clinical Commissioning Groups to procure the services to deliver out-of-hours GP care locally, and it is paramount that CCGs and health boards are confident the providers they commission can safely deliver the service they are contracted to do."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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