Simplified NHS 111 call summaries still 'useless', say GPs
Exclusive GPs have criticised new-look NHS 111 summaries that are being sent to practices from this month, saying that they are still not streamlined enough and risk important information being overlooked.
Pulse has learnt that the ‘simplified’ Post Event Messages (PEMs) were rolled out by NHS England this month, but that GPs on the ground are struggling to notice any difference from the old-style summaries which were, in some cases, nine pages long for one patient contact.
The GPC said that the new look summaries ‘add nothing’ and that they are still old-fashioned and difficult-to-read. Click here to look at an example.
NHS England said in August that it wanted ‘simplified’ call summaries to be rolled out ‘as soon as possible’, and told Pulse last month that they would be in place by the end of December.
A spokesperson told Pulse this month that they had been rolled out across the country and that they had also made changes to ‘vastly’ reduce the number of reports that GPs were sent.
NHS England told Pulse the simplified summaries now have a clear heading distinguishing a primary message from a secondary message plus a summary of the clinical case to clarify the clinical outcome.
A spokesperson said: ‘There have been two complaints about PEMs first, is the layout and content, the second is that GPs have always received a message from out of hours after a contact and now they receive this and a PEM from 111 when patients are referred to OOH.
‘NHS England has agreed that this duplication is unnecessary. So, when a patient is referred electronically to GP OOH by 111 the PEM can be ‘supressed’ by 111 i.e. it isn’t sent - this is important because it vastly reduces the number of PEMs a GP has to wade through each day.’
But Dr Peter Holden, the GPC negotiator who leads on NHS 111, said the new-style summary ‘adds nothing’.
Dr Holden said: ‘Any fool can send me all the information about a patient – that’s just overload. What I want to know is what the concern is so I can look into it. I have not seen any change to the closely-typed, old-fashioned, printed, difficult-to-read summaries.’
He added that he had suggested the summaries include ‘GP action box’ to highlight what practices should be doing.
Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyward told Pulse that new PEMs ‘remain fairly useless documents in general practice’.
GPC negotiator Beth McCarron Nash told Pulse she had received the messages in their new layout and ‘it didn’t seem that different’.
But Dr Andrew Mimnagh, urgent care lead at Sefton CCG, said that the new-style summaries were a ‘substantive improvement’.
But he added: ‘I would hope that further incremental refinement would be possible in future to minimise the “significant pathway question answered negatively” aspect.’