Out of hours doctors successful start

AN out-of-hours doctors service has had a successful first few months, despite initial concerns over how well it would work.Since the end of September, patients have been unable to go for urgent weekend appointments at their local GPs and are instead directed to the nearest local centre or given advice over the phone.

AN out-of-hours doctors service has had a successful first few months, despite initial concerns over how well it would work.

Since the end of September, patients have been unable to go for urgent weekend appointments at their local GPs and are instead directed to the nearest local centre or given advice over the phone.

Suffolk Doctors on Call (SDOCS), who run the new out-of-hours service, say overall things are going well, despite a busy Christmas period.

Dr David Cocks , chief executive of SDOCS, said: "We'd tried to make is as smooth a transfer as possible for everyone by bringing in the system gradually.


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"The biggest significant change has been Saturday mornings which are without a doubt our busiest times.

"We are being asked to meet quite demanding requirements and we are working hard to achieve this."

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Figures for the whole of December have not yet been collated but Dr Cocks said the scheme saw a record number of calls on December 28.

He said: "It was 65 per cent busier than an average Saturday."

Dr Cocks said that for some patients there may have been problems with speed of response but that, overall, they had coped with the volume of calls.

The most recent statistics available are for November. They show that, across the three East Suffolk PCTs, more than 5,000 calls were received by the out of hours service and only 11 complaints were received.

Of the 5,095 calls received, 2071 received advice over the phone, 1595 were referred to one of the centres, and 653 received a home visit.

On average all patients ringing with routine enquiries received a call-back from a doctor within 31 minutes. Those with urgent enquiries were called back within nine.

What have your experiences of the service been like? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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