Primary care trusts face having to renegotiate contracts for out of hours provision.

The Department of Health said last week it would develop a national model contract for out of hours and bring in stronger minimum standards.

Out of hours hasn’t been taken seriously enough

This follows an inquest ruling that Cambridgeshire patient David Gray was killed unlawfully by German GP Daniel Ubani during his first NHS out of hours shift.

Health minister Mike O’Brien also said the DH would implement in full recommendations in a report - General Practice Out of Hours Services - written by primary care tsar David Colin-Thomé and Royal College of GPs chair Steve Field.

The report, published last week, warned some providers still had “difficulty integrating with the health community” nearly six years after out of hours responsibility largely passed from GPs to PCTs.

It called on PCTs to review performance management arrangements, examine the frequency of contractual reviews and integrate GPs further into the service.

Professor Field told HSJ: “It’s about bringing forward appropriate contracts and monitoring them to ensure [the provider] is performing to all the regulations - all the regulations are there but it seems PCTs aren’t following them. Out of hours hasn’t been taken seriously enough. More GPs need to be involved.”

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly is among PCTs already looking to renegotiate its out of hours contract. Director of partnership commissioning and primary care Antek Lejk said it would seek to increase the involvement of GPs after its out of hours contract with Serco ends in April 2011.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said in January that a future Conservative government would return out of hours responsibility to GPs.

HSJ and Local Government Chronicle are holding a conference on Population Profiling to Achieve Customer Insight on 17-18 March, www.lgc-populationprofiling.com