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Editor's blog Thursday 4th February 2010: Get hassling your out-of-hours provider

Here you go. It looks as if James Meikle got it just about all right.

The report, ‘General Practice Out of Hours Services’  by Dr David Colin-Thome, National Clinical Director for Primary Care at the Department of Health and Professor Steve Field, Chairman of Council, Royal College of General Practitioners into current arrangements for out-of-hours services found unacceptable variation in how these are implemented and monitored by PCTs.

Its main recommendations, accpepted in full by the DH (who of course had no real chocie) are:
1. PCTs should review the performance management arrangements in place for their out-of-hours services and ensure they are robust and fit for purpose;
2. The Department of Health should issue guidance to PCTs to assist them in making decisions about whether or not a doctor has the necessary knowledge of English;
3. The Department of Health should develop and introduce an improvement programme for PCTs to support their commissioning and performance management of out-of-hours services;
4. Out-of-hours providers should consider the recruitment and selection processes in place for clinical staff to ensure they are robust and that they are following best practice;
5. Strategic Health Authorities should consider how they monitor action taken by PCTs in response to this report and in carrying out appropriate performance management of out-of-hours providers; and
6. Providers should co-operate with other local and regional providers (both in and out-of-hours) to share any concerns over staff working excessive hours for their respective services.

Watching the family of the victim David Gray conducting themselves with immense dignity at their press conference was humbling. The case remains shocking, however mercifully rare, and again indicates just how far we remain in healthcare from a safety culture worthy of the name.

That should keep everybody nicely busy for a while.