Just two out-of-hours GPs for Suffolk

HEALTH bosses have admitted there are sometimes just two GPs covering out-of-hours services for Suffolk's 600,000 population.

Jo Thewlis

HEALTH bosses have admitted there are sometimes just two GPs covering out-of-hours services for Suffolk's 600,000 population.

Take Care Now (TCN), the organisation which currently provides out-of-hours care in the county, said there were typically three GPS on call - although that sometimes fell to two due to sickness.

And last night, NHS Suffolk said it was unable to confirm whether those numbers would increase when a new service provider - Harmoni - takes over the OOH care from April.


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A spokesman for NHS Suffolk said: “We provide a safe service.

“We commission a service which means people in Suffolk who need care out of hours are seen by experienced clinicians, the majority of whom are Suffolk GPs.

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“We are confident the new contract will be a good service.”

TCN schedules three GPs and a nurse for its 12am to 8am shift, but this figure can drop to two GPs if there is staff sickness.

Although response times for non-urgent calls were set to be cut from six hours to four hours under the new contract, the NHS Suffolk spokeswoman was unable to confirm GP numbers would increase.

“In line with our contract, we are continually monitoring patient safety and experience and will continue to do so,” she said.

“We are committed to making sure the service is serving the people of Suffolk.”

Julian Tyndale-Biscoe, a spokesman for TCN, it had been met targets for 100 per cent of emergency calls, 96.71 per cent of urgent calls and 99.52 per cent of routine calls.

He added the service expected to receive around 50 calls a night, of which the majority were resolved on the phone.

“We are not being asked to provide five GPs.” Mr Tyndale-Biscoe said. “We are meeting our national quality targets.”

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