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Devon Doctors is leading the way says Minister

CAB 011-10
05 February 2010

Devon Doctors has been highlighted as a possible model for the future of public services, following a visit by the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Tessa Jowell, Minister for the Cabinet Office, visited Devon Doctors in Exeter today as part of her commitment to secure a bigger role for mutualism – organisations owned and managed by its staff, customers or local communities.

This visit follows a major speech where the Minister announced the creation of a new independent Commission on Ownership to look at a bigger role for mutualism in the delivery of public services.

The Minister met with Devon Doctors to discuss how the doctors run and mange their enterprise, and how their mutual model benefits quality and continuity between in and out-of-hours GP care.

Devon Doctors is owned by all of the 176 GP practices of Devon. Devon Doctors’ social enterprise status means that the GP practices cannot make profit from their ownership but do have a direct influence over the services provided to their patients in the out-of-hours period.

Since 2006 Devon Doctors has been consistently ranked by users of the service and by outside inspection agencies as among the best quality providers of out-of-hours care in the country.  Most recently the Department of Health’s Ipsos MORI GP Patient Survey ranked the four PCTs commissioning the Devon Doctors out-of-hours service as 1st, 5th, 6th and 11th out of the 152 PCTs in England for patient satisfaction with out-of-hours.

Tessa Jowell, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

“I believe that exceptional service and care in public services can be provided to the public with the increased involvement of those who deliver and use the services.

“Devon Doctors should be proud of their achievements and for being a ground-breaking mutual organisation from which others can learn”.

“I am examining how this mutual model – with greater staff, community and service-user involvement – can be expanded more widely across public services”.

Dr Simon Murray, Torquay GP and Devon Doctors Director, said:

“We are fortunate to have an excellent team of clinicians, staff and managers at Devon Doctors. It’s vital that there is a move towards public service frontline workers having the ability to better influence how those services are run. More involvement should also be given to those who have the biggest interest in those services being delivered well, such as local people.

“The Minister’s work to secure a greater role for social enterprise such as that provided by organisations like Devon Doctors is very much to be encouraged.”

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