October 4, 2008

Praise for GP Service Welcomed

By DIANA PRINCE Health Reporter

Doctors have welcomed praise heaped on Plymouth's GP out-of- hours service after the city was named England's best place for emergency healthcare.

The Healthcare Commission's review of urgent and emergency care last week placed Plymouth top of all the 152 Primary Care Trust areas in England.

The audit placed Devon Doctors, which provides the out-of- hours GP service in Plymouth and across the county, as the best provider in England.

Dr Andy Potter, a partner at North Road West Medical Centre and elected GP on the Devon Doctors board, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the result. You have the belief you are doing a good job compared to other organisations, but to have that validated by an external organisation is super.

"We have evolved into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation. The feeling you are doing something of social value is the right feeling. It's a new take on the old-fashioned idea of what the NHS is all about."

He put the success of the service, which he described as 'efficient and well-managed', down to good leadership and the enthusiasm of local doctors.

The independent audit by the Healthcare Commission highlighted a number of key areas where Devon Doctors scored high marks. These included:

98 per cent of patient phone calls to the service answered within 30 seconds;

99.54 per cent of telephone assessments started by the GP within 20 minutes where the call is prioritised as urgent;

100 per cent of callers have got through to the service and not received an engaged tone.

Dr Chris Bastin, Devon Doctors medical director, said: "I am thrilled that the work of the Devon Doctors team has been formally recognised. It is not just about doctors but nurses, drivers, reception staff, managers and all the support teams. I believe the one factor that makes Devon Doctors stand out is the fact it is owned by all the GP practices in Plymouth and these practices provide the majority of doctors who work out of hours shifts."

The Healthcare Commission's report showed excellent performance across all of the services providing emergency care, including ambulance, accident and emergency, out-of-hours GP services, emergency care provided by GPs and the minor injury unit.

Devon Doctors, a not-for-profit social enterprise owned by GP practices across Devon, has managed the out of hours service for Plymouth Primary Care Trust since 2004.

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