Spending watchdog slates provision of doctors out of hours care in England

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 15 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:556
  1. Lynn Eaton
  1. London

    Doctors were the only winners from changes in 2004 to out of hours provision, states a report from the government's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee.

    As far as patients are concerned, they lost out—not only because of a reduction in the quality of the service, but because of the additional financial burden on them as taxpayers, says the report.

    The findings, published on Wednesday, look at the changes in GP out of hours cover introduced in 2004. Before then, GPs provided the cover themselves, either by pooling together to operate as a cooperative when their surgeries were closed or by paying for a commercial deputising service. After 2004, they were able to opt out of this arrangement. Instead they paid £6000 a year to their local primary care trust (PCT), which took over responsibility for …

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