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#GPnews: Ambulance trust ‘downgraded NHS 111 emergency calls’

16:00 Patients with neurological conditions are being inappropriately placed in older people’s care homes due to a ‘postcode lottery’ of care provided in Scotland, a care charity has warned.

Sue Ryder said nearly a thousand people, a quarter of which are under 65, may have been inappropriately placed in care homes where they miss out on the specialist neurological treatment, support and rehabilitation they would receive in a specialist centre.

The charity based its report on a Freedom of Information Act request to all Scottish local authorities and health boards, focusing on patients with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease and sudden brain injury.

Sue Ryder’s assistant director for Scotland Pamela Mackenzie said: ‘It is clear from our research that the needs of people with neurological conditions have largely been overlooked in recent years.

‘Now the true state of neurological health and social care services in Scotland has been revealed, we urge the Scottish Government to take immediate action to address these inequalities so people with neurological conditions get the chance of a better quality of life.’

13:30  A shocking story in the Telegraph today. A leaked report reveals that senior trust executives were deliberately delaying ambulances being dispatched to people calling NHS 111 helpline. It claims that up to 20,000 patients were subject to deliberate delays under the covert operation, which forced high-risk cases in the South East to automatically wait up to twice as long if their call was referred from the helpline.

Under NHS rules, calls designated as ’life-threatening’ are supposed to receive an ambulance response within eight minutes.

However, the South East Coast Ambulance trust – which covers Sussex, Kent, Surrey and North East Hampshire – apparently invented its own system to routinely downgrade 111 calls, which the call handlers themselves were unaware about.

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This allowed the trust to falsely claim it was hitting key NHS performance targets, improving performance by up to 5%.

10:45 Another BBC investigation looked into the numbers of junior doctors going off sick.

An FOI request to 21 London hospital trusts found that there has been a sharp rise in the number of days junior doctors in London were signed-off with stress, anxiety and depression, with days lost through these absences rising by 159% since 2011.

This accounted for around 3,180 across the 21 trusts.

Professor Clare Gerada, former chair of the RCGP, who now runs the Practitioner’s Health Programme, said: ’I’ve worked in the NHS for 35 years and I have never seen so many demoralised individuals.’

9:45 The Welsh LMCs conference took place on Saturday, and delegates voted for an emergency motion which called on the Welsh GPC to ignore the calls for mass resignations made by the Special LMC Conference in January. They said that the situation in Wales was different to the situation in England and, as such, that radical measure is not in their best interests.

Read the full story here.

We’ll have more from the conference later in the day.

9:30 The BBC have found that more than two-thirds of trusts and health boards in the UK are actively trying to recruit from abroad due to tens of thousands of vacant NHS posts, including doctors.

It found that 7% of doctor posts were vacant. The total number of vacant doctor posts was 4,669 – an increase of roughly 60% on 2013.

Pulse revealed last year that one in ten GP posts were vacant, while figures last month showed there was a decrease in applications for August training posts across the board, including a 5% decrease in GP applications.

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