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CQC calls for closer scrutiny after out-of-hours GP kills patient

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A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report has urged health care managers to review the quality of their out-of-hours service over fears that some private GP companies do not meet basic standards.

The recommendation follows the death of 70-year-old David Gray last February, who was accidentally killed by a German doctor on his first out-of-hours shift in the UK.

Mr Gray died after being injected with a 10-fold strength dose of morphine, with the doctor, Daniel Urbani, later telling a court he was exhausted at the time and had only slept for a few hours before starting private work for a Cambridgeshire health trust.

The report into Take Care Now, the company which employed Dr Urbani and which has additional contracts at trusts in Essex, Worcestershire, Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney and Cambridgeshire, concluded that “All PCTs should scrutinise out-of-hours services more closely”.

“They should look in detail at the services that they commission, including the efficiency of call handling and triage, the number of unfilled shifts, the proportion of shifts covered by non-local doctors, the induction and training those doctors receive, and the quality of the decisions made by clinical staff,” it added,

Cynthia Bower, CQC’s chief executive added current trust monitoring of Take Care Now’s services was “only scratching the surface.”

CQC’s advice was backed-up by Health minister Mike O’Brien, who said that patient safety was paramount.

Mr O’Brien said: “PCTs have a clear legal responsibility to provide safe, high quality out-of-hours care and are required to have in place robust performance management arrangements to ensure their out-of-hours services are delivering against contractual requirements.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Martin Gray

    What about checking on working hours doctors are putting in BEFORE they do out of hours work, whether in this country or abroad? This doctor admitted to being exhausted, yet is it not true that many doctors working in OOH services are already doing the maximum 48 hours per week as per the European Working Directive at their own prcatices?

    I work as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in a general practice and for an OOH service; I have 2 contracts which total 48 hours per week and have been told I can't do more than this despite the fact I am happyt to do up to 60 hours per week even if the remainder is not contractual. However the same 'rules' do not seem to be being applied to doctors so where is the fairness?

    I only want to be able to support patient care by helping to provide services both in and out of hours. I ensure, as do both my employers, that I get a decent 'rest' period so that I am not too tired to perform my role. Yet I am still prevented from doing so because of an EU ruling that is being 'twisted' when contractual committments need to be filled.

    My point is this; if there are doctors and nurses in this country willing and able to do longer hours WITHOUT breaking the fundamentals of the EUWD why are we prevented from doing so - thus alleviating the need to import doctors from abroad where checks are extremely difficult if no downright impossible?

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