Promise of more duty doctors

THE number of duty doctors will be increased by the company which today takes over the provision of out-of-hours GP care in Suffolk, it can be revealed.

THE number of duty doctors will be increased by the company which today takes over the provision of out-of-hours GP care in Suffolk, it can be revealed.

Harmoni HS Ltd takes over from Take Care Now and will run the out-of-hours GP and dental services in Suffolk for the next five years.

Serious concerns were voiced earlier this year after it emerged that, at times, only two GPs were covering a population of 600,000 over night.

Under the new contract, NHS Suffolk has said the cover will increase to at least three GPs.


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Andrew Gardner, who has been chief executive of Harmoni since 2006, said: 'It comes down to regularly looking at the number of calls coming in and seeing if we can keep up the standards. If we feel we cannot do that, we will up the resources.'

But Mr Gardner admits the independent firm admits has a lot to do to win the confidence of the people of Suffolk.

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'We have a fundamental vision that we want to treat patients as family. The thing that drives everything we do is our service to the patients. We have got quite a lot to do to get the confidence of the population of Suffolk about our ability to do that. Two things will underpin this; building links with other organisations in particular GPs and making sure it is a quality service.'

Sue Hayter, director patient safety and clinical quality, said: 'Built into the new contract is a tougher clause to ensure that there is sufficient and appropriate medical cover (GPs) to respond to requests for information and visits.'

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