To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he received a copy of the Review of Out-of-Hours Services in Northumberland, undertaken by Northumberland Care Trust and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust; what further reviews of out-of-hours services are being undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the operation of the out-of-hours service under the new general medical services contract.
The review of urgent care services across Northumberland was carried out by Northumberland Care Trust and Northumbria Healthcare National Health Service Trust. The outcome was shared with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear strategic health authority (SHA), which will continue to work with the local NHS to ensure that the action plan is fully implemented. The findings of the review have already been discussed publicly at the board meetings of Northumberland Care Trust and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust. They have also been shared with the overview and scrutiny committee in Northumberland and with Mr Beith.
In addition, the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA is also carrying out a formal assessment of adherence to the new out-of-hours quality requirements across the region. That process is still ongoing.
The Department is not currently undertaking any reviews of out-of-hours services. It would also not be appropriate for the Department to be involved with a review such as the one undertaken by Northumberland Care Trust and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust. Responsibility for local health services lies with the local NHS.
The new general medical services contract supports the development of an integrated system of high-quality out-of-hours care. It provides primary care trusts with an opportunity to address service fragmentation and introduce an integrated network of urgent care provision—bringing together primary, secondary and social care, to offer patients an integrated, responsive and locally appropriate service—delivered to nationally set quality requirements—which addresses all their urgent care needs.