Posted on July 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

NHS Choices | accessed on 28 July 2009

Since 2004, GPs have been able to choose whether or not to provide 24-hour care for their patients.

The out-of-hours (OOH) period is from 6.30pm to 8.00am on weekdays and all day at weekends and bank holidays.

Currently, some GP surgeries deal with OOH services themselves as well as having normal surgery hours. Some surgeries work together so that the GPs from more than one surgery can take turns to provide care. Other surgeries pay private companies to give care on their behalf at certain times. This may be for OOH treatment or when surgeries are closed for another reason.

Primary care trusts (PCTs) are local healthcare organisations that are responsible for making sure that all patients get OOH care. Some PCTs may decide to provide the care themselves, while others might hire other organisations to do it. This means that each area may have a slightly different service.

You can contact your local PCT to find out how you can access OOH care in your area.

Since January 2005, all providers of OOH care have had to comply with national OOH quality requirements. These state that details of all OOH care must be sent to the surgery where the patient is registered by 8.00am on the next working day. OOH providers must have a complaints procedure consistent with the NHS complaints procedure.

Types of out-of-hours care

OOH cover may include some or all of the options below:

  • GPs working in A&E departments, NHS walk-in centres or minor injury units (MIUs),
  • teams of healthcare professionals working in places such as primary care centres, A&E, MIUs or NHS walk-in centres,
  • healthcare professionals (other than doctors) giving home visits after a detailed clinical assessment, and
  • ambulance services moving patients to places where they can be seen by a doctor or a nurse in order to reduce the need for home visits.

Telephone consultations and triage (assessment of how urgent your medical problem is) are an important part of all OOH care. NHS Direct is the national 24-hour phone service, on 0845 4647, giving health information and professional healthcare advice.

For the Department of Health’s Comprehensive information on a range of out-of-hours topics including categorised policy documents, non-clinical guidance, links, and other resources click here

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