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Error warning on letters from India

A hospital which has outsourced transcription of consultant letters to India is warning GPs that correspondence they receive from one of its departments will not be checked for errors.

Royal Surrey County Hospital's department of breast, general and melanoma surgery is piloting the move in order to save time.

GPs have described the move as 'extraordinary'.

Medical defence bodies said that as GPs had been warned the letters may contain errors, they had a duty to make proper checks themselves.

Dr John Williams, a GP in Guildford, Surrey, said the situation was 'bizarre'.

He said: 'When you're dealing with people who have had lumps and are worried about the results and want to get them back quickly and reliably – what an extraordinary thing to do.'

Dr Michael Devlin, a med-icolegal adviser at the Medical Defence Union, gave the hypothetical example of a follow-up appointment for a cancer patient mistranscribed as six months rather than six weeks later.

He said: 'There are dangers and the main risk for a GP is that it could be argued the GP had been made aware of the problems and would have to have an eye on the possibilities when reading letters.'

A spokesman for the Royal Surrey County Hospital Trust said the pilot would be stopped if it did not 'provide a service at least as cost-effective and of the same quality'.

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