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.”