Anger as out-of-hours GP services are cut just before Christmas

A West Midlands MP has spoken out against cuts to out-of-hours GP services in the local area, according to the Birmingham Mail

Ian Austin, an MP for Dudley North, is demanding that the government ensures the people of Birmingham aren’t left without out-of-hours services over the winter period.

This is in response to Primecare, a division of Allied Healthcare which provides out-of-hours services in Walsall, Sandwell and Birmingham, telling GPs it would stop providing services from 1 December.

Patients registered with around a dozen surgeries in Birmingham are most likely to be affected.

Austin said of the news: “The NHS is entering its busiest period but thousands of patients in large areas of Birmingham and the Black Country could be left without GP out of hours services.

“This is obviously a very serious issue for patients in West Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall, but many hospitals are already failing to hit their targets and this could also result in much bigger pressures on local hospitals and other health centres.

“I want to know what steps the government is taking to sort this problem out and ensure local patients continue to get all the help they need.”

A letter sent to GPs earlier this month said: ‘As a result of the decision by our group, Allied Healthcare, to cease all operations by mid-December 2018, Primecare (a division of Allied Healthcare) will no longer be in a position to provide individual GP practices with primary medical services including GP OOH [out of hours] opted-in cover, half day cover, ad hoc cover or any telephony-based services as from 1 December 2018.

‘You are advised to make urgent contact with your relevant CCGs to discuss contingency plans for the provision of these services.’

A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said: “All CCGs and NHS Trusts have robust contingency plans in place to make sure individuals’ care and support needs continue to be met.

“Our priority is to ensure essential services remain in place. We are working closely with NHS England to support the relevant CCGs to ensure there is no disruption to services.”

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