More questions than reassurance in out-of-hours GP service report

Commenting on a report by Cornwall’s Primary Care Trust published yesterday into the Out of Hours Doctors Service, the local MP who had blown the whistle on it, said that he is “not reassured” by the report.

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George (who is also a member of the Health Select Committee), raised concerns before the PCT commissioned Serco to continue the Out of Hours GP service for another five years in October 2011. He then took matters to the Care Quality Commission early this year. His justification for reporting the matter was upheld by the CQC’s damming Report in July.

Mr George said: “The report confirms that managers deliberately altered data. The data manipulation would have helped Serco present figures which would have inflated its response time targets.

“Data was altered on 252 occasions between January and June this year – a period when Serco knew that it was already under heavy scrutiny and was no doubt trying to clean up its act. It was also the period when I had referred the matter to the Care Quality Commission and when the CQC commenced and completed its investigation. It was the period before this in 2011when I fear such data manipulation would have been worse.

“On top of this, the scrutiny of Serco’s data handling records was undertaken by Serco. Not independently.

“The PCT criticised me heavily me for raising concerns and blowing the whistle on the service that many of us knew was not as good as the many plaudits heaped on it by itself and the PCT.

“This also raises wider concerns about the wisdom of opening up even more of the NHS to private companies who, it seems, may be prepared to go to any lengths to win and retain NHS contracts.

“Government Ministers should reflect carefully before rushing on with its potentially reckless gamble of turning public health services into a private market.”

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