Claims that emergency duty teams are to disappear have been
refuted by the Emergency Social Services Association.
Steve Witheyman, chair of ESSA, said EDTs are not “dinosaurs that
will die out, because they can adapt”.
Last week, some senior managers raised concerns that changes in the
Children Bill, greater use of new technology, and a general move
towards out-of-hours services becoming an extension of daytime
provision meant the specialist EDT’s days were numbered (news, page
8, 5 August).
Their comments followed a decision by Liverpool social services to
scrap its existing EDT team and to direct out-of-hours enquiries
through a call centre with support from a social services
But Witheyman said: “There has to be a cut-off point where
out-of-hours work takes on an emergency role.”
Witheyman said EDTs’ social workers were not adverse to change, and
many operated within round-the-clock call centres. He also called
on councils to invest in electronic case-management systems so EDTs
had up-to-date details on clients.
But may lack GPs’ back-up, say MPs
Emergency duty teams needing GPs’ help with clients could face
problems if warnings from MPs this week become reality.
By the end of this year most GPs will be able to opt out of
providing out-of-hours care to their patients under a new contract,
with responsibility for the service passing to primary care trusts.
A Commons health committee report warns that some trusts are not
adequately prepared for the change and that there could be a
considerable shortfall in funding.
Robert Lake, emergency social care lead for the Association of
Directors of Social Services, said that EDTs called on GPs to help
their clients out-of-hours across a range of areas, particularly in
He said that if an EDT was unable to get hold of a GP out-of-hours
and could not contact a psychiatrist either, gaining admission to a
mental health institution for a client could become “very
Under the new system, PCTs can use other health care staff to
provide out-of-hours services.
– GP Out-of-Hours Services from www.publications.parliament.uk