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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.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • The 111 printouts are rather like a single MCQ question being answered with an essay..... written in crayon..... by a gibbon. Whilst the correct info may be in there you will never find it.

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  • Yes, these are still so poor that having to read them should be a LES.

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  • What's the problem?

    The example shows, at the top of the page:

    Patient's Reported Condition
    Patient has a cough

    Pathways Disposition
    The individual needs to contact the GP practice or other local service within 24 hours. If the practice is not open within this period they need to contact the out of hours service. (Dx08)

    Selected Service: No Service Selected

    Consultation Summary
    Antibiotics previously advised by Dr for this problem
    Purulent cough
    Fever at time of assessment or in last 12 hours
    Illness - cough 4 days


    Foloewed by the Pathway data which can be ignored

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  • Peter Swinyard

    one cannot ignore clinical communications - once received, if there is something in there which has not been pulled to the top of the page and the patient suffers from us ignoring it, we are legally liable for negligence.
    If it can be ignore, why send it?????
    I think the length of the previous comment is self-explanatory....

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  • the real point is the whole misguided concept of nhs 111 is useless.
    it is nhs 111 that should be 'fighting for breath' (as in the first line of the old form)...it is the organisation which needs revolutionary change or elimination..not the form.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The whole argument of using NHS111 is specious . No matter how much one tried to tingle the edges, the fundamental flaws can never be disguised .....
    If you want something to work , you have to at least made people believe it would work.......don't lie to yourself, my friend .......

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  • Form designed by group who have never seen a patient

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