Clinical negligence in out-of-hours care ‘must be monitored’

  • Posted

Posted 01/10/2009

A healthcare regulator has called for improved monitoring of out-of-hours care by NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in order to avoid clinical negligence incidents.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) voiced its concern that not enough scrutiny is being placed on the standard of care provided by out-of-hours GPs.

This statement follows an inquiry into the sector after a clinical negligence incident in Cambridgeshire, which saw patient David Gray killed by an accidental painkiller overdose administered by a locum doctor.

In response to this incident, CQC visited five different PCTs and discovered that a greater emphasis is currently being placed on monitoring response times than quality of care.

Cynthia Bower, CQC’s chief executive, stated that this could be indicative of a “national problem”.

She said: “GP out-of-hours services provide vital care to people outside of normal surgery hours. As commissioners of these services, PCTs need to ensure people receive safe, quality care around the clock.”

Sandra Patton, a clinical negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal, said: “Our experience is that patients are concerned about out-of-hours services and we are dealing with a number of cases where there have been tragic outcomes following patients contacting these services.

“Of course, not every outcome is avoidable but it doesn’t help where there is lack of trust in the process of dealing with out-of-hours emergencies.”

Last week, the Guardian reported that the government is considering proposals which would see doctors being legally compelled to confess to and explain incidents of medical negligence.


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