• North West out of hours GP service given highest rating by CQC
  • Cumbria Health on Call rated outstanding following inspection last year
  • The social enterprise is the first out of hours doctors service to get the top rating

An out of hours GP service in the North West has become the first in the country be rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.

Social enterprise Cumbria Health on Call was inspected by the CQC in November and December.

In a report published on Thursday, the regulator rated the service, which covers the whole county, outstanding overall. It gave CHoC a good rating for being safe, caring and effective, and an outstanding rating for being responsive and well led.

It is the first out of hours doctors service in the country to be given the highest rating.

Inspectors highlighted three areas providing outstanding service:

  • CHoC was highly responsive to the needs of the “predominantly rural” population including piloting telehealth appointments, which reduced the average time for a patient to be seen from 146 to 32 minutes.
  • Leadership, management and governance assured the delivery of “high quality care”.
  • Governance and strategy were “proactive and innovative” in addressing staffing difficulties.

The report said: “There was an open and transparent approach to safety and an effective system in place for recording, reporting and learning from significant events.

“Risks to patients were assessed and well managed. Patients’ care needs were assessed and delivered in a timely way according to need.

“Leaders had an inspiring shared purpose and motivated staff to succeed. Staff we spoke to told us the executive team were highly approachable, and that this had a positive effect on staff morale.”

CHoC is commissioned to provide the out of hours service from its six bases in the region including Carlisle, Penrith and Whitehaven.

Chief executive Susan Blakemore said: “I am delighted that the hard work of our GPs and all our staff has been recognised.

“I know that the CHoC team goes above and beyond our expectations on a regular basis because our patients tell us they are happy with the service, but to have it confirmed that we are offering Cumbria an outstanding service is a real endorsement of the energy and enthusiasm of our teams across the county.”