Devon Doctors has provided an out-hours service in Devon since 1996 when it was a GP co-operative. In 2004 it became a company limited by guarantee and was commissioned by NHS Devon, NHS Plymouth and Torbay Care Trust to provide the out-of-hours service under the new GP contract.
Strong links with local GP practices
Devon Doctors is owned by the 176 GP practices in Devon. Practices vote for a GP to represent their area on the Board. They have a direct influence over the service provided to their patients, providing better continuity between in-hours and out-of-hours primary care.
Valuing patients above profit
Devon Doctors Ltd is one of the largest social enterprise companies in the South West of England and was awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in 2009. It’s proud to be part of the third sector, putting profit back into improving its services for patients.
Assessed to be one of the best
Devon Doctors consistently achieves all of the Department of Health Quality Standards. In some areas it exceeds them with its own, locally agreed, standards:
Urgent visits must be provided within one hour and other visits within two hours
palliative care patients must be treated within an urgent timescale
The Government’s national GP Patient Survey results for 2009/10 placed all of Devon Doctors’ commissioning PCTs in the top 15 for satisfaction with the out-of-hours service.
Patient surveys carried out by the Department of Health and Primary Care Foundation in 2009 showed that patient satisfaction with Devon Doctors was above the national average (73 per cent compared with 66 per cent), and patients in the Torbay Care Trust area were the most satisfied in the country.
The Primary Care Foundation’s 2009 benchmarking exercise reported Devon Doctors to be good value for money: it dealt with a higher level of demand per head than most other services while remaining compliant with all standards, and remaining financially competitive.
In 2008 the Care Quality Commission’s investigation into urgent care services gave Devon Doctors the best scores in the country. It achieved an ‘outstanding’ level in several areas, including telephone access and times for face-to-face assessments.
In 2006 the National Audit Office highlighted Devon Doctors as an example of good practice, placing it in the top ten percent nationally.
Devon Doctors has developed subsidiary organisations: Devon Dental, Devon Health and Halton Health. Their services include:
- • GP-led health centres: Government initiative to provide improved primary care access via health entres open 8am-8pm 365 days a year. Devon Health manages health centres in Torquay and Plymouth, and Halton Health manages health centres in Widnes and Warrington.
- • Out-of-hours services in Halton (GP) and Devon (dental).
- • Acute Care GP (ACGP) service. Primary care working with secondary care to avoid unnecessary admissions. GPs are based in the RD&E hospital in Exeter, and the Yeovil and Taunton hospitals in Somerset.
- • Prison healthcare service. Sub-commissioned by Devon Partnership Trust to provide care within Dartmoor, Exeter and Channings Wood prisons.
- • Devon Primary Link. Call operators provide message handling and administrative services for a variety of primary care schemes.