Out-of-hours care 'inadequate'29th October 2007
A Royal College of Physicians report has said the NHS is not providing adequate evening and weekend GP access and treatment for "severely ill" patients.
The report - the product of a taskforce put together by the RCP - examined acute medical services and deemed them "inadequate and inflexible".
Following rule changes in 2004, GPs were given the option not to offer out-of-hours care if they wished. The taskforce pointed out that the out-of-hours care - which is currently given by co-ops and private firms - was of a poor standard and made some patients visit hospital for "reassurance".
The report said treatment offered by hospitals needed to be rethought in order that patients who were not suffering from life-threatening illness could still receive the care they needed. It also made the recommendation that local "navigational hubs" were put in place to direct patients to the correct services.
RCP president Professor Ian Gilmore said those working within the NHS faced a "challenge" to change their working methods.
He said: "For doctors, nurses, managers and all those involved with the care of acutely ill patients, this task will not be easy, but the status quo is not an option if we are to give these patients a consistently high standard of care."
The report said that patients often passed too slowly through the hospital system and that it should be reconsidered so that "rapid streaming of patients" could occur.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said the NHS was already providing a high standard of out-of-hours care and had invested heavily in the services needed.
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Title: Out-of-hours care 'inadequate'
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 4586
Date Added: 29th Oct 2007