EXCLUSIVE There was a 26% increase in the number of serious incidences reported by GP out-of-hours services to commissioners last year, with GP leaders warning that they are no longer a 'safe pace of work' and that there is an 'urgent crisis' in the service, a Pulse investigation has revealed.
Figures obtained through responses to a freedom of information request from 97 CCGs and health boards across the UK revealed that out-of-hours providers reported 81 serious incidents in 2015, and 76 incidents in 2016. Click here to read some examples of events reported.
In the first nine months of 2017, there had already been 71 serious incidents. Extrapolated across the whole year, this equates to 95 - but this does not take into account the busy winter months, during which time out-of-hours leaders said ‘workload became intense’ for the providers.
One provider in the south west said it experienced a 29% surge in demand over the holiday period, and GP leaders in Wales expressed their concern ‘about the integrity of out-of-hours’ over this winter.
It is also likely that the total number of incidences are higher due to CCGs failing to respond, with one provider covering 1.5m patients saying they had had 84 serious incidents over the three years.
GP leaders said that out-of-hours services are facing a crisis due to lack of funding and increasing demand.
A Pulse investigation last year found that out-of-hours services are increasingly stretched with one in 10 providers had no overnight GP cover, with increasing numbers of GPs in Wales refusing to do out-of-hours shifts because of unsafe working.
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