Dr Ian Mack, Chair of the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group.

Hope that GPs will take over out-of-hours care contract in West Norfolk is dashed

Monday, January 13, 2014
10.11 AM

A call for West Norfolk’s GPs to return to providing out-of-hours care has been dashed after the chairman of the area’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) said the current contract could not be broken.

North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham claimed to have support from doctors for his idea of forming a consortium of practices that would share night-time rotas across the west of the county.

Sheila Young, chairman of the West Norfolk Patient Partnership, also said many of the practices she had spoken to supported the move – because it would ensure people get better care from a familiar doctor.

She added that GPs would like to take over out-of-hours care “sooner rather than later”. However, Dr Ian Mack, chairman of the West Norfolk CCG – responsible for awarding the contract – said no GPs had approached him about changing tack.

He added that even if they did, the CCG could not break its current three-year contract with the East of England Ambulance Service, which started in August 2012.

Despite that, Dr Mack pointed to changes in the GP contract nationally which will take effect from April.

In particular doctors will have a new “named clinician” role, with overall responsibility for the care of vulnerable elderly patients.

Mrs Young said there were examples of where the present out-of-hours arrangement worked well, but added: “With the current out-of-hours service, you’ve got someone going in who is completely foreign to that situation.

“It is quite possible they would just get that person into a hospital, whereas one’s own GP would go in knowing the situation and would deal with it in the home.”

Mr Bellingham added that having a GP consortium providing out-of-hours care would “take a huge amount of pressure off accident and emergency”.

He said: “Many doctors feel slightly anxious that they don’t have control over their patients during that time.”

Who do you think should be responsible for out-of-hours care in west Norfolk? Write, giving your full contact details, to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk