Outsourcing isn’t working

Vocare the private supplier of out of hours GP services to Somerset has been rated inadequate once again. The Care Quality Commission has again told the companybased in Wellington House, Queen Street, Taunton that further improvements are required to its NHS 111 service and its GP Out of Hours service. This follows a recent re-inspection after its services after the GP Out of Hours service was placed into special measures in April 2017.

Amazingly the CQC carried out an announced inspection of Vocare’s service at Wellington House in November 2017.  Vocare’s NHS111 service rating remains overall as Requires Improvement but with notes that the service is rated Inadequate for being well-led although rated Good for safety, effectiveness, caring and being responsive to people’s needs.

At the same inspection, CQC also reviewed the Vocare GP out of hours service. While it was rated Good for being caring, Inspectors rated the safety, effectiveness, responsiveness to people’s needs and leadership as Inadequate. Overall the GP out of hours service remains Inadequate. 

Ruth Rankine, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice, explains “It is extremely disappointing to see that Vocare is still not meeting the required standards. While there have been some improvements, mainly within the NHS111 service, there is still a significant way to go to demonstrate it can provide patients with high quality care across all its services…..CQC have taken further enforcement action but for legal reasons we are unable to discuss further. In the meantime the leadership team at Vocare is continuing to work closely with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and other stakeholders to ensure that further improvements are put in place.”

Which begs the question, why are we persisting in paying an organisation to fail. It seems bizarre that the  Somerset CCG are not looking at ways of providing an “in-house” service.

Instead the Somerset CCG are looking at employing yet another private consortium “Devon Doctors Limited” to provide the service.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is simply another example of a market based approach being applied to an institution (the NHS) that isn’t a market.