Out of hours GP Service – statement

Following news stories at the weekend which were prompted by the leaking of a memo which suggested that Cornwall’s Serco out-of-hours GP service was engaged in adjusting response times in order to meet its Key Performance Indicators, local MP and member of the Health Select Committee, Andrew George, had taken these issues up with both Paul Forden, Serco’s Managing Director of local services and Steve Moore, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust.  Both responded by seeking to reassure that the memo “was done very poorly” and “states the wrong reason why the step was put in”.

Mr George said:  “Patient safety is paramount.  Perhaps it is time to recognise that it is no longer appropriate that companies providing essential services effectively control their own evaluation; at least control the data collection on which they are assessed.

“It would be a pity to have to put in place/embed an independent assessor or verifier, but in order to both protect patient care and ensure that the company providing the service is not misrepresented (if that is what has happened in this case) then that is what needs to happen.  I imagine that Serco (and the Commissioner – presently the PCT) would feel happier if such suspicion of data manipulation were removed from them in this way.  If they have nothing to hide they will have nothing to fear from such a change.”

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