The CQC’s latest report on urgent primary care services shows that the majority of walk-in and urgent care centres, NHS 111 and GP out-of-hours services in England are doing well, with 128 rated good or outstanding (around 9 out of 10).
The report goes on to look at the relationship between these services and the wider health service, recognising that well run and adequately resourced services ease pressure within the system as a whole. Commissioners are urged by the CQC to recognise these secondary benefits when allocating resources.
Aside from resourcing issues, the CQC highlighted a number of other specific challenges faced by urgent primary care providers, include pressures around staffing, compounded by the reality of unsocial working hours and high reliance on self-employed clinicians, difficulties in accessing people’s medical records.
While the majority of care is rated good or outstanding, voluntary sector groups also raised concerns that there is a lack of public information about which services to contact and when, and that people require guidance to overcome an historic reliance on accident and emergency.
Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the Care Quality Commission, said “Well-resourced and integrated urgent care not only provides safe, high-quality care to people, but can also ease pressure on other areas of the NHS – particularly emergency departments during the winter period and other times of peak demand. These benefits should not be overlooked.
“It is encouraging that the majority of care is rated good or outstanding and important that commissioners and other services recognise the value that urgent care offers as part of integrated care for people in a local area. As CQC’s interim work reviewing local systems has shown, the relationship and interaction between services is vital to better patient experience and outcomes.
“The work already underway by NHS England is an important step in driving better care for people. However, there is more to be done to make sure complex commissioning arrangements and gaps in public information do not undermine care or undervalue these essential services.”