• Devon Doctors subsidiary no longer providing out-of-hours GP service

    Devon Doctors' subsidiary Halton Health will cease to provide the out-of-hours GP service in the Halton area of Merseyside as of Thursday, March 21.

    For the past seven years, the service, which independent assessors rated one of the best in the country, has been operated by the not-for-profit organisation Halton Health.

    However, the imminent arrival of NHS 111, and with it a major overhaul of urgent care services, prompted Halton Health to undertake a strategic review of its operations; as a result, it decided not to continue the service beyond its current contract date.

    NHS Direct will assume responsibility for dealing with calls to the 111 number, from people who need medical help fast but do not regard it as a 999 emergency, while Urgent Care 24, which already operates the out-of-hours service in Liverpool and Knowsley, will expand its operation to take in the Halton area.

    “I’m extremely proud of what Halton Health has achieved over the course of the past seven years,” said chief executive Jayne Phillips.

    “With the help of healthcare professionals across the board, our skilled and committed staff have delivered significant improvements in the standard of out-of-hours care available to the people of Halton.

    “It was with heavy heart that we took the decision not to bid for the new contract under NHS 111.

    “I wish UC24 the very best of luck!”

    The most-recent MORI GP patient survey saw 76.5 per cent of respondents living in the Halton & St Helen’s PCT area rate their out-of-hours care as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, the eighth best result in the entire country.

    Halton Health will continue to operate Windmill Hill Medical Centre on the site of the primary school in Norton Hill, Runcorn. Under its management, there has been a significant rise in patient numbers and demand for its services is increasing day on day.

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