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12-hour wait for out-of-hours service is ‘clinically unsafe’

A leaked report has said that callers to out-of-hours GP services run by Integrated Care 24 (IC24) faced waits of more than 12 hours and this posed a “significant risk to patient safety”.

The interim report into the company’s non-emergency 111 and out-of-hours services in Norfolk and Wisbech, found deficiencies in call handling and a shortage of GPs. During unannounced inspections following complaints, staff said they had been asked to alter their records.

IC24 said it had addressed the issues.

The organisation operates NHS 111 services in areas including Great Yarmouth and Waveney and parts of Essex, and took over the Norfolk and Wisbech contract in September 2015.

Assessors from Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (NCCG) inspected five IC24 bases in Norfolk and one in Cambridgeshire in November following staff complaints.

Their report highlighted several issues including problems with long waits, inadequate IT systems that did not allow patients to be triaged effectively, staff asked to alter records, and a lack of GPs. The report also highlighted “An element of fear” among staff over reporting concerns.

BBC: 15 January 2016

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