Doctors have pledged their commitment to continuing to improve local out of hours GP services after an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted some governance and management processes which required immediate improvements.

The regulator placed South Tees Access Response (STAR) into special measures but  all actions requiring immediate attention have now been addressed.

STAR was set up by local GPs to improve access to GP services outside of normal working hours for patients needing urgent care or advice. Four extended hours GP centres were launched in April 2017 to provide access to GPs from 6pm to 9.30pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 9.30pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.

The service, which has GP centres in Middlesbrough, Redcar, North Ormesby and Brotton, has helped reduce regional A&E attendances and waiting times, and has received excellent feedback from patients for its caring and accessible service – in a recent survey of 200 patients 99.5% said they would recommend STAR.

Elm Alliance, the local GP federation which runs the STAR service, has been working closely with NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group since its launch to develop more robust governance and management processes.

This was accelerated further in July when an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted some governance and management processes which required immediate improvements.

The final report, expected to be published today (11 September 2017) at www.cqc.org.uk, includes positive feedback in relation to patient care – rating the service as “good” for caring – but rates the service as “inadequate” overall.

Following the inspection STAR immediately developed a thorough improvement plan and all actions requiring immediate attention have been addressed.

This includes improvements to medicines management, better equipping vehicles used for home visits and having an improved system in place for recording, reporting and learning from significant events.

Teik Goh, who was appointed ELM Alliance Chief Executive in August 2017, said: “ELM Alliance is absolutely committed to ensuring our patients receive safe, high quality care and a good experience when using the STAR service.

“The organisation accepts the findings of the report and has made immediate improvements and we are now working with both the CQC and our Clinical Commissioning Group to continue to develop the service.”

Patients can request extended hours appointments via their own GP surgery or by calling NHS 111 out of hours.

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