Hackney GPs urge patients to join their out-of-hours social enterprise to make it “democratic and transparent”

Hackney GPs are encouraging people who live or work in Hackney and the City to join the social enterprise they formed, in a bid to make sure the out-of-hours (OOH) service in the borough is run as democratically and transparently as possible.

GPs formed the not-for-profit City and Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise (CHUHSE) two years ago and expected to take over the OOH service on April 1 when private company Harmoni’s contract ended.

However just seven weeks before CHUHSE was due to go live the Primary Care Trust (PCT) announced it would extend Harmoni’s contract for another nine months while it put the contract out to tender.

CHUHSE has announced it wants to collaborate as closely as possible with the local community to create the kind of service patients want, to ensure they can address people’s needs, and is asking people to join its Community Benefit Society.

GP Nick Bailey from the City and Hackney Coalition to save the NHS said: “They are hoping a large number of people will join thereby making the service as democratic and transparent as possible.”

GPs and many patients in Hackney are concerned about the services currently provided by Harmoni.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) ruled Harmoni was not providing safe levels of doctor cover for some of the shifts it was being paid to deliver when it inspected in March.

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A spokesman for Harmoni said it was extremely difficult for all OOH providers across the country to recruit doctors.

He continued “On rare occasions, a GP is, at the very last moment, unable to attend a shift to which he or she had committed, as happened at Homerton on Easter Sunday.

“Patients needing to see a GP during that time were instead offered an appointment with a GP at our Haringey base, less than two miles away.

“This was achieved without any adverse impact on patient care.”

For more information about CHUHSE see www.chuhse.com.