Standards

GP Out-of-Hours services comply with all relevant Quality Standards for Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland and the standards below.

Standard Description
1. Service availability GP Out-of-Hours is available when your GP surgery is closed. This is usually:
Weekdays – 6pm to 8am
Weekends – 6pm on Friday to 8am on Monday
Public holidays from 6pm to 8am the next morning. Note times can vary slightly in different areas.
2. Accessing the service Each GP Out-of-Hours provider is accessed via a single telephone number.
3. Answering your phone-call GP Out-of-Hours providers aim to answer your telephone call within 60 seconds after the end of the introductory message.
4. Responding to your call The urgency of your call will be assessed (triaged). The response times are as follows:Triage:

  • Emergency (Life-threatening): these calls are more appropriately dealt with by 999 and will be passed to 999 ambulance within 3 minutes.
  • Urgent: appointment given at initial contact or triage within 20 minutes by a health professional.
  • Routine: triage within 1 hour by a health professional.

Face-to-face consultation:
The health professional will determine if a face-to-face consultation is needed and the appropriate timescales. A face-to-face consultation, if required, usually takes place at an Out-of-Hours centre or occasionally at a patient’s home or place of residence.

  • Acute: face-to-face consultation within 1 hour if required after completion of triage.
  • Urgent: face-to-face consultation within 2 hours if required after completion of triage.
  • Routine: face-to-face consultation within 6 hours if clinically appropriate after completion of triage. This type of call may be more appropriately dealt with by your daytime GP.

If you need a face-to-face visit you will be given an indication of when you will be seen and should be able to attend the Out-of-Hours centre that is open nearest to where you are. Occasionally, when required, you will be visited at home. We would ask that you keep appointments or inform us if you cannot keep or no longer require the appointment. If deemed appropriate at any point you may be referred to another service e.g. 999, Emergency Department, social services, nursing, mental health etc.

5. Informing your daytime GP Details of your consultation with GP Out-of-Hours will be sent to your GP by 9am the following morning.
6. Patient experience This will be regularly monitored with a minimum of an annual patient satisfaction survey.
7. Dealing with a complaint Your complaint will be acknowledged within 2 working days of receipt and responded to in writing within 20 working days.
8. Call recording and monitoring All calls to and from GP Out-of-Hours are recorded and randomly audited. All data is stored in line with Data Protection requirements.
9. Communication The GP Out-of-Hours phone number will be on the answering machine of your daytime GP surgery, in the telephone directory and on this website. Language interpretation will be provided within 15 minutes of initial contact where required. Appropriate provision will be made for those people with impaired hearing and sight.
10. Medicines If you need any medication Out-of-Hours you will generally be given a prescription unless in an emergency. For Minor Ailments you can attend most pharmacies directly for medication when they are open, without contacting GP Out-of-Hours. Note that any repeat prescriptions should be dealt with by your daytime GP and in some cases your local pharmacy (unless in emergencies).

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