Headlines: March 3rd, 2000

The GP out of hours service is the next to face modernisation – with the Government announcing a review to find and spread best practice across the country.At present a variety of schemes exist for getting hold of a family doctor at night and weekends, such as GP co-operatives, practice rotas and deputising services.

The Government says the review is about bringing the standard of out of hours services across the country up to that of the very best.

It will aim to make sure that every GP out-of-hours service has the right type and number of doctors in each unit, provides good quality at best value for money, and is fast and responsive.

The review will also examine the new role of NHS Direct. In pilot schemes, NHS Direct nurses have assessed patients who call at night or at the weekend and then referred them to the local out-of-hours GP service if necessary.

The Out of Hours Review Team will be led by Dr David Carson, a General Practitioner by background who is Head of Primary Care Strategy and Performance at East London & The City Health Authority. The team’s report is expected to go before Ministers by the late summer.