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Serco 'looking to offload out-of-hours GP services' in Cornwall

By WBCarol  |  Posted: October 13, 2013


Comments (7)

THE chairman of Devon Doctors has confirmed that it has been in talks with Serco about taking on the out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall.

Serco has also confirmed that it is looking to offload the county's service to another contractor.

Serco, a private contractor responsible for out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall, has had talks with Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, its NHS 'customer', to subcontract out the service to a specialist company.

Devon Doctors, which currently runs the out-of-hours service in the neighbouring county, has confirmed that it is one of those potential subcontractors.

Chairman David Hughes said: "I can confirm that some talks have taken, they are at a very early stage.

"No details and no hard and fast things have been confirmed yet.

"We have not met with the board yet to discuss this issue."

Dr Louis Warren, Serco’s director for the GP out-of-hours service in Cornwall, said: “We have been working with our NHS customer, Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, to improve the integration of our service with other providers of unscheduled healthcare in the region.

“The NHS is considering a number of options to achieve this, including the possibility of the clinical elements of Serco’s service being delivered by a suitable specialist subcontractor of the necessary quality, capability and experience.

“At this stage no decision has been made. If such an arrangement were to be put in place, Serco would continue to be responsible and accountable to Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group for provision of the service.”

NHS Kernow’s director of operations Andrew Abbott said: “Serco has approached us about potential alternatives to the way the service is delivered at the moment and we are considering their suggestions. Until we have fully considered all the options we are not able to comment further."

Liberal Democrat Andrew George, MP for west Cornwall, said: "Serco should hand back the keys for the service. They've failed and now admit it.

"They shouldn't be able to determine how the service is delivered. We should use this opportunity to reintegrate the service."

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, said: "It is for local doctors at Kernow Commissioning Group to decide who should provide out of hours GP care.

"I will continue to stress to the group my belief that the need for patients to see a local doctor when their surgery is closed should be the key consideration when making these decisions, and to highlight the high level of care that was provided when Kernow Doc ran the service.

"Personally, I feel that Kernow Doc should never have lost the contract to Serco and very much hope that lessons can be learnt from the problems that have subsequently affected the provision of out of hours care in Cornwall."

Serco was subjected to a two-day surprise inspection by the Care Quality Commission in July.

The firm has come under intense scrutiny and criticism, including a scathing attack in July by the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee, which called its service substandard.

In its newly-published report the CQC said important strides had been made and 'essential standards of quality and safety ... were being met'.

Most importantly, it said staffing levels 'a subject of criticism at a previous inspection' were now safe.

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  • Smurf46  |  October 14 2013, 10:55AM

    Good definately the sooner the better - diabolical service, they dont even pay for the staff to do the training........bring back Kernow Doc or a more suitable service that can deliver the care that Cornwall needs and deserves.

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  • Sharon40  |  October 13 2013, 3:40PM

    I have no complaints the service has always been totally excellent for my family and through very serious illness too and we've used them on numerous occasions , always get a home visit or a local appt very fast and the doctors have always been efficient and acted fast.

    |   -4
  • JMonners  |  October 13 2013, 12:51PM

    absolute joke of an outfit.

    |   1
  • TheGeofflane  |  October 12 2013, 2:39PM

    I spent nearly five years driving doctors at night in London for a 'Relief Service' like Serco. You would not believe the stories I could tell. Frequently, after 12 hour night time shifts, I delivered them to hospitals to begin their day's work. Night time relief service needs to be controlled by the practices they cover for. So, yes, I hope West Country doctors take over the service. I might need them myself one day.

    |   8
  • Trecurnow  |  October 12 2013, 1:53PM

    Give the service back to the local doctors whose bid to provide the "service" was undercut by SERCO in the knowledge that they could not do it for the money as it is generally acknowledged they way they bid for contracts - then ask for more to continue.

    |   11
  • toffer99  |  October 12 2013, 11:19AM

    This will happen to all the privatised chunks of what used to be the NHS. If the private sector find they can't make a hefty profit, they'll push it back on the NHS. Ditto with difficult operations or complex cases which will require expenditure. Incidentally, which is the only bit of the railway which makes a profit? Its the bit we own, the East coast line. So what will the government do? They're going to give it back to their mates in the private sector, of course. Get any Royal Mail shares? This utility we used to own was sold back to us. But it was sold mostly to bankers and hedge funds; 2/3rds of it went to them. Why, well, Cameron, Osborne and the cabinet of millionaires need directorships when they get chucked out in a couple of years time. Still glad you voted Tory or Lib Dem? Then you are the definition of a masochist.

    |   4
  • yveyk  |  October 12 2013, 11:04AM

    The sooner we're rid of them the better. They took two weeks to sign a death certificate and the undertakers were driving around the countryside so they could get the paperwork done and we could sort out a funeral. They took hours to turn up to the dying man and we are now faced with a bill for the 'taxi-ing' of a dead man. I'm sending the bill to Cornwall Council and Serco for payment. This is unacceptable - who are they employing anyway? Is it the prisoners they ferry around up country? Beware folk out there - don't bother to get ill outside hours in Cornwall, you may never see a doctor and you may have to wait weeks for a cause of death certificate!

    |   8