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'Patients in line for better service' vow.

THE busiest GP out-of-hours service in Wales has now changed hands for the third time in four years and is being brought back into the NHS, it was announced today.

The pounds 2.5m contract to provide all medical and dental services in Cardiff during the evenings, nights and weekends will now be dealt with by the Rhondda Cynon Taff local health board.

Health managers have switched back to the NHS, claiming it will provide a much smoother service for patients in need of help when doctors and dental surgeries are closed.

The GP out-of-hours service in Cardiff was the subject of a major inquiry by auditors two years ago after the Cardiff Local Health Board awarded the first contract to a private company - Clinical Solutions - which had no track record of providing medical services and resulted in a barrage of complaints from patients unable to access treatment.

Further controversy was sparked when the sole shareholder of Clinical Solutions made a large, but undisclosed profit, by selling his stake in the company within four months of winning the Cardiff contract.

Since 2005 the service has been run by Serco Health, an international health provider which took over Clinical Solutions. But it has now lost out to the Rhondda Cynon Taff health board with the new service starting on October 1.

Mike Walsh, of Cardiff Local Health Board, said: "We are looking forward to working with RCT health board. There will be a new way of working that will ensure we will be able to develop services that fully integrate the out-of-hours GP, ambulance and hospital services. This should provide a much smoother service for our patients."

Mel Evans, chief executive of the RCT local health board, said: "We are delighted to be extending our tried and tested out-of-hours service to the people of Cardiff."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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