The Government do not allocate centrally how much money is spent by local NHS providers on out-of-hours services. However, in 2009-10, the last year for which figures are available, £403.8 million was spent on out-of-hours GP services in England and £1.6 million was spent on out-of-hours services in Coventry. We plan to give GPs and other health professionals greater powers to commission out-of-hours care to achieve high quality, integrated services that are focused on the needs of patients.
It was, of course, the hon. Gentleman’s Government who did so much to undermine the provision of out-of-hours services. We propose not only to review the existing framework, but to ensure that there are the real improvements that benefit patient care, which are so badly needed.
Will my right hon. Friend ensure that there are no artificial constraints so that GPs, even though they may be commissioners, can ensure that they provide out-of-hours services in combination with clinics and ambulance services?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that important issue. I assure him that there are mechanisms in the Health and Social Care Bill to provide protection so that there are not the problems that he anticipates.