GPs stopping out of hours cover should lead to better deal for patients - but only if services are redesigned properly, says The King's Fund

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Responding to today's Health Select Committee report on GP Out-of-Hours Services, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We're entering a new era in the provision of care to people with urgent needs, and this report sensibly raises a number of real risks. We need to value the working lives of doctors and we can't expect them to be on call 24 hours per day, but the only way we can prevent problems for patients is by ensuring the quality of care doesn't suffer.

'The goal is bigger than simply maintaining the status quo and ensuring that this change has no impact on patients. It is an opportunity to put better systems in place, create better linkages between different parts of the NHS which come together to provide out of hours care. If this redesign is organised effectively, patients will get a better service, but patients may suffer if this crucial reorganisation is mishandled.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585.

2. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.