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Out of Hours GP

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LINk Information on Out of Hours GP

Brighton and Hove Out of Hours GP Service

The deaths in 2008 of three year old Joseph Seevraj from Hove, and David Gray in Cambridgeshire have raised concerns about the quality of out of hours health care services since GPs opted out In 2004. Since then, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) responsible for providing cover at nights and weekends have often relied on private firms working under NHS contracts.

For the patient, this means that outside normal surgery hours you can still phone your doctor’s surgery, but you are likely to be directed to an OOH service. (The (OOH) period is from 6.30pm to 8.00am on weekdays and all day at weekends and on bank holidays.)

In 2008 Joseph Seevaraj died from complications arising from tonsillitis; his parents had telephoned the OOH service and taken the advice of the OOH doctor. However, the Coroner - the public official who investigates by inquest any death not due to natural causes - Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said "He needed basic medical attention. The failure to provide it was gross failure. I am satisfied there is a clear connection between this gross failure and his death."

David Gray (East Cambridge and Fenland) died after an OOH doctor mistakenly gave him an overdose of diamorphine (a powerful painkiller). The coroner in this case ruled that the patient had been unlawfully killed.

There is one OOH GP on call for Brighton and Hove which has a population of 240,000 and covers an area of 34 square miles. The GP is supported by a trained driver and receptionist and is backed up by a call centre team which includes nurses who help to assess patients’ requirements at night.

During the OOH period you:

  • should only telephone for an ambulance in a life threatening situation (ring 999)
  • should telephone NHS Direct for healthcare advice on 0845 46 47
  • should telephone your usual GP surgery telephone number if you require the services that you would normally use your daytime GP for.
  • call the out of hours service: 845 456 5420 You can also call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) for medical advice. Telephone consultations and triage (an assessment of how urgent your medical problem is) are an important part of all OOH care.


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