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Most urgent primary care services ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’

Over eight in 10 primary care services are providing good care, despite mounting work force and commissioning pressures, the CQC has said.

A report released today by the commission shows that the majority of walk-in and urgent care centres, NHS 111, and GP out-of-hours services in England are rated good (118) or outstanding (10).

The document titled ‘The state of care in urgent primary care services’ said that despite 16 services remaining rated as requires improvement, with three inadequate, around 85% of services received the good or outstanding rating.

“Today’s report also highlights that effective urgent primary care benefits not only patients but the wider healthcare system, by easing pressure on other services,” the CQC wrote.

“This means the value of its impact is greater than the cost of service provision – but this is not always considered in complex commissioning decisions and as a result appropriate resource may not be made available to these types of services.”

Challenges faced by urgent primary care providers include pressures around staffing, unsocial working hours and a high-reliance on self-employed clinicians. Many providers experienced difficulties in accessing people’s medical records — a key issue that was highlighted in a scathing report of Capita’s services last month.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC, said: “Well-resourced and integrated urgent care not only provides safe, high quality care to people, but can also ease pressure on other areas of the NHS – particularly emergency departments during the winter period and other times of peak demand. These benefits should not be overlooked.”

Field added it was important that commissioners and other services recognise the value that urgent care offers as part of integrated care in a local area— adding: “As CQC’s interim work reviewing local systems has shown, the relationship and interaction between services is vital to better patient experience and outcomes.”

Volunteer sector groups also raised concerns that there is a lack of public information about which services to contact and when, and that people require guidance to overcome a historic reliance on A&E.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This report recognises that most urgent primary care services provide good care but that some areas could improve. We believe we have not invested at the speed or with the urgency required in new models of care in the community.

“What is important is that the patient is at the heart of any system design. We have welcomed the Prime Minister’s long-term funding settlement for the NHS. Unless we increase investment and reform the services that surround our hospitals, the whole system will fail.”


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