Commissioners must monitor Serco out of hours service in Cornwall more closely, says watchdog

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 08 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1560
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

The public spending watchdog has strongly criticised the out of hours GP service in Cornwall provided by the private contractor Serco. Staffing levels were too low, it said, and the service fell unacceptably short of essential standards of quality and safety.1

The report by the National Audit Office recommends that out of hours contracts should be reviewed so that financial incentives are linked more clearly to quality requirements. It also calls for greater protection of whistleblowers, saying that they had an important role in highlighting concerns about Serco.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee asked the National Audit Office to investigate Serco’s performance. Margaret Hodge, the committee’s chairwoman, said that Serco’s performance was shocking and disgraceful. “Serco needs to raise its game and demonstrate that it is accurate and honest in reporting its performance. The primary care trust and, from April, the clinical commissioning group need to monitor every …

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