Death prompts call for inquiry into out-of-hours care
By Nigel Praities
The use of locums by out-of-hours providers is under scrutiny after the death of a patient given a massive opiate dose from a foreign GP.
David Gray died at his home in Fenland, Cambridgeshire, after being given a 100mg dose of diamorphine, by a German doctor who admitted be was feeling ‘too tired' to concentrate, according to an investigation by The Guardian newspaper.
In response to the case, the Care Quality Commission announced an inquiry into the OOH provider involved, Take Care Now.
Christine Braithwaite, head of investigations and enforcement at the CQC, said it would ensure any lessons are learnt from this case.
‘This is a deeply disturbing case and one that must be thoroughly looked into.
‘We are aware of a number of concerns in relation to out-of-hours care provided by Take Care Now to the NHS. We will be looking into these issues to ensure that the interests and safety of patients are properly safeguarded,' she said.
David Gray's son, Stuart, is a GP in the West Midlands and has called for an NHS investigation into the use of foreign GPs for OOH services.
A statement from NHS Cambridgeshire they were working ‘tirelessly' to improve procedures at their OOH providers, including looking at the use of locum doctors.
‘The case does raise areas of concern generally around induction and recruitment of locums and we have been working with the Strategic Health Authority and our providers to improve processes in these areas,' it reads.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb, said: 'There is an urgent need to improve how the out-of-hours care system works. We need an independent review to address the problems which the death of David Gray has highlighted.
'Relying on doctors being flown in for a weekend shift is not a sustainable way to provide out-of-hours care.
'The Government created this problem when it rolled out a poorly designed GP contract without a system of out-of-hours care that people could trust.'