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Out-of-hours medical service investigated

28th May 2012

The company which runs an out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall has hit back at criticism levelled at it.

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Serco claims allegations about the service are false and that it is performing well in Cornwall.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted an inspection in April, which St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George said was triggered because of mounting pressure from patients and politicians.

He said he had heard allegations of response times being amended, doctor numbers being stretched and that Serco was using non-clinical staff to answer calls.

The Guardian reported the unannounced inspection was in response to whistleblowers who claimed Serco allowed queues of up to 90 patients at a time to build up at its telephone helpline and adjusted figures to blame delays on patients in order to meet targets.

However, a Serco spokesman said: “Since the out-of-hours service started, Serco has not scored less than 95% in the monthly patient satisfaction survey and over 86% of patients rate the service either excellent or good.

“A substantial number of the allegations considered have been raised before, were fully investigated by a number of independent bodies and found to be false and without foundation.”

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust said it had not been told of any concerns that would impact on patient safety and remained confident the service was adequately resourced and meeting the required national quality standards.

The service in Cornwall has a team of more than 180 doctors, 50 other clinicians and about 140 support staff.

 

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