Out-of-hours services are the arrangements to provide access to healthcare at times when General Practitioner surgeries are closed; in the United Kingdom this is normally between 6.30pm and 8am, at weekends, at Bank Holidays and sometimes if the practice is closed for educational sessions.
Most Out-of-hours services in Scotland and Wales are provided directly by Health Boards. In Northern Ireland they are provided by the Health and Social Care Trusts. In England they are commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups, usually working together, as the contracts often cover large areas. Out-of-hours providers in England must be registered with, and are regulated by, the Care Quality Commission.
The contract for General medical services which most GPs work to requires practices to be responsible for their patients between 8 am and 6.30 pm from Monday to Friday. In some cities commercial deputising services were set up employing doctors to cover the out of hour’s period, paid by the practices in the area but these weren’t viable in much of the country.
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