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Delay in revamping 'cluttered' NHS 111 summaries putting patients at risk, warn LMCs

The Department of Health has been too slow in revising the summaries sent to GPs after calls to NHS 111, which are currently so ‘lengthy’ and ‘obscure’ that they jeopardise patient safety, LMC leaders have warned.

A revised template for the summaries produced by the new urgent care service is due to be issued as part of the next release of the NHS Pathways tool in the summer, almost a year after the DH was first warned that the summaries were too long.

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs, said: ‘Everyone in the Thames Valley moans about the summaries from NHS 111. They are so lengthy and cluttered with irrelevant detail that there will inevitably be an important error at some time in the future.’

‘GPs will miss important data. GPs shouldn’t have to be reading lengthy, obscure documents. GPs’ time is precious and that’s not recognized.’

He said he had raised the issue with the DH almost nine months ago.

‘The DH is very slow to sort this out despite the pressure we have put them under,’ he said. ‘Why is it taking until the summer to fix? That’s a ridiculous time frame, offered by people in an office who don’t see patients and are oblivious to the concerns of people who do see patients.

He added: ‘This is about the safety and care of patients. The Francis report is very relevant here. Sort it out.’

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said he had also received reports saying the summaries were ‘too long’.

The NHS 111 urgent care number is due to be rolled out nationally from April - despite an independent evaluation of pilots raising doubts over its expected benefits.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Responding to feedback from GPs about the original GP summary, a revised version has been developed and will be available in the next NHS Pathways release due in summer 2013.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • 111 may have limited benefit but poses a great risk as illustrated above, and also for the potential increased demands it will place on ambulances, emergency departments and GP practices. Following the Francis report it seems absurd that the politicans feel able to push ahead with such a potentially dangerous scenario, when they have not been listening to the concerns of patient groups and health professionals. The politicians have a duty to listen to these comments which are made with "candour"

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  • The sheer drivel in these reports is ridiculous - every female from cradle to grave is apparantly likely to be pregnant, and patients frequently pass fresh blood pr in the absence of rectal bleeding.
    We receive up to 4 such reports for a single attendance which will clutter the notes for years, yet somewhere if there is one salient point that I miss it will be on my head.

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  • I find it astonishing how much reluctance there is to implement 111. All of a suddden NHS Direct is brilliant (when did that happen? perhaps if you don't work in A&E then it's great) and the system isn't broken. Thank heaven A&Es and ambulances are not currently overrun with people using them inappropriately!

    If it's implemented right it will be a great help and if it isn't then it won't. And, like anything, it will not be a panacea on day 1 but should eventually prove to be a useful tool in changing the patient culture of pitching up at A&E with the slightest thing.

    And is it likely that someone in a GP consulting room that is about to die of something serious will be given a sugar-pill because the GP found a report a bit long? It is NOT a diagnostic tool, it is a signposting system to get a patient to the right place (i.e. not A&E). Health professionals will still (and always) be the people who make the clinical assessment and refer or treat the patient.

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  • I think colleagues above are missing some key information, these summaries were never designed for GPs. I agree there is lot of information on these but isn't it better to have more information than not enough at all?

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  • This isn't a fix that is needed! This is development work, having input into what is required by GP colleagues myself it would be unfair to say they are 'cluttered' we moan if there is not enough and we moan there is too much!
    I know from experience the summaries are available and fit for my purpose, there is no delay!

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  • It is not so much a reluctance to implement a new service if the service was fit for purpose people would be more likely to embrace it. As the pilot schemes showed the increase in calls to 999 this should have be enough for the powers that be to change the system before rolling out to other areas. The comment about the summaries are not for GP's a lot of patients are being directed to GP's so obviously the summaries are for them as well as other professionals. Far too much irrelevant information is being included from call staff with 6- 8 weeks training ? who are unable to triage but can tell patients they need to see their GP sometimes within 2 hours, how many GP surgeries would be able to accomodate these patients in this time scale.

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