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Changes to home oxygen in chaos

GPs have endured a frantic start to the changeover of home oxygen supply with many warning patients are being left at risk.

Fax machines and phone lines have been constantly jammed since the 1 February transition to provision by one of four companies rather than a pharmacist.

GPs complained they had received confusing and contradictory information on the switch while the Home Oxygen Service admitted there was chaos.

Dr Tony Crockett, a GP in Shrivenham, Wiltshire, and hospital practitioner in asthma and COPD, said: 'I've got a stack of e-mails and faxes about how the transition will work and many are contradictory. It's clear our local provider has been absolutely overwhelmed. It would have been far more sensible to phase this in.'

Rugby PCT was one trust to report severe problems. It said: 'It's taking up to 45 minutes to even send a fax through and people aren't receiving their supplies for days.'

GPs have been confused about how to order oxygen, with many sending in forms for all patients rather than those needing oxygen delivery.

The Home Oxygen Service said this was causing real problems: 'Patients in need of oxygen are in danger of being missed.'

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