RQIA publishes GP Out of Hours Review findings

September 14, 2010

Northern Ireland’s independent health and social care regulator, The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), recently published a review of GP Out-of-Hours services across Northern Ireland.

The independent review team included health care professionals and managers from Northern Ireland and Scotland. The team visited each of the five out-of-hours services in Northern Ireland and examined the arrangements in place to deliver safe and effective treatment for patients.  RQIA also worked in partnership with the Patient and Client Council, to ask the public about their experiences of these services.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Glenn Houston, RQIA Chief Executive said: “RQIA’s report provides assurance to the public that patient safety is a priority for the management and delivery of GP Out-of-Hours Services across Northern Ireland. The review team found that staff are committed to delivering high quality treatment for patients and highlighted examples of good practice in each service. The report identifies opportunities to share good practice across Northern Ireland and calls for closer collaboration with other out-of-hours services, including A&E, ambulance, community nursing, social care and mental health crisis services.”

Maeve Hully, Chief Executive of the Patient and Client Council said:

“This report reflects the views and experiences of patients who access GP Out-of-Hours services.  While patients value the high quality of care and responsiveness of their local services, they told us that there should be a single contact telephone number across Northern Ireland for Out-of-Hours services.  In addition, it is important to ensure that patients know how to make a complaint when a problem arises.”

Dr Ian Carson, RQIA Chairman added: “RQIA’s review makes a series of recommendations, including the need to clarify the future strategic direction for the service.  Other key recommendations include the development of regional guidelines for out-of-hours providers on referral pathways for mental health patients; sharing best practice by rolling out the emergency care summary, which allows for the sharing of patient information among clinicians, throughout Northern Ireland; and measures to make sure that doctors are not working excessive shifts across the service.”