Pirate FM News

Cornwall's Out of Hours GPs Service Branded "Substandard"

serco

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 9:57am 11th July 2013. (Updated at 11:23am 12th July 2013)

Cornwall's out of hours doctors service is branded "substandard."

A report from a powerful committee of MPs has laid into Serco for missing targets, fiddling figures and having a bullying culture.

Staff had lockers searched as bosses hunted whistleblowers.

Doctor Louis Warren speaks for the private company and has told Pirate FM things are getting better: "A great deal of improvement has been made. The real issue highlighted last year in terms of our clinical staffing capability, in terms of GPs and nurses has been addressed and we've significantly uplifted those numbers. We're confident in the service that we're delivering and I'm confident that it's going to improve going forward.

"We have a very clear whistle-blowing process. I would suggest that it does work but I think there's always going to be a situation where people feel, perhaps, that they are exposing themselves and this isn't something that we're just dealing with as a service, this a problem throughout the NHS."

In the wake of the report, the company is returning £85 thousand in bonus payments to NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group.

Margaret Hodge helped write the report for the Parliament Standards Committee: "This a really key service providing out of hours safety to people who suddenly fall ill that you know the phone will be answered when you ring up and you know a doctor will come and see you if you need one quickly. Neither of these things were provided by Serco; they lied about what they'd said they were doing."

But St Ives' MP Andrew George says he has lost confidence in Serco and thinks they should be stripped of the contract: "I would far rather see the contract far better integrated with the any-hours contract with the daytime GPs; that's what I think the majority of people in Cornwall will conclude as a result of reports like this."

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