Exclusive NHS 111 provider Care UK has apologised to GPs and offered them administrative support in updating their patient records after a technical fault meant 15,000 NHS 111 non-urgent post event messages were not received by practices.
The problem, which affected some calls from April until October 2014, resulted in 15,000 cases where the registered practice did not receive a record of the calls, which were all closed without the need for further intervention.
Care UK has told Pulse they immediately notified CCGs and NHS England when the fault was identified, that the assessment by senior clinicians indicates patients weren’t put at risk as a result, and that measures have been put in place to prevent a repeat.
After every call to NHS 111, the provider is meant to send a post event message detailing the call, even when there was no need for any action.
However, technical issues at Care UK meant that 15,000 cases were not logged with the patient’s practice.
All practices have now been given the reports, but the errors have led to a backlog for some practices in updating their own records.
Amanda Carey-McDermott, Care UK’s national NHS 111 director, said: ‘As soon as this matter came to light, we informed colleagues in local CCGs and NHS England and we worked with them closely to agree what action we needed to take to put it right.’
She added: ‘Due to a technical issue a number of PEMs had not been sent to GP practices as they should have been. These notifications only represent a very small proportion of the calls made to the NHS 111 services that we provide, and assessments by senior clinicians indicate that no patients were exposed to risk as a result.
‘We informed GPs with patients who were affected about what happened and have sent GP practices the missing notifications. We would like to apologise for any additional administration work that this issue created for GP practices.’
A spokeperson for Care UK told Pulse: ‘We believe the number of messages [affected] to be around 15,000.’
GPC urgent care lead, Dr Charlotte Jones told Pulse that even where a 111 call has been closed without need for an intervention or appointment, the GP record must still note the call, particularly where the caller may have been a vulnerable patient.
Dr Jones told Pulse: ‘From the type of calls that were closed, it’s highly unlikely but not completely impossible that a call was closed and the odd vulnerable patient, the practice wouldn’t have known they’d been in contact, for example those on child protection registers.’
‘Care UK sent confirmed practices a letter, they weren’t absolving themselves of responsibility, and they did offer practices support if they felt they needed it.’
‘Most practice involved would have had less than ten patients who needed it, there were a few practices – probably larger ones- who would have had about 30 messages.
She added: ‘We [the GPC] felt that the approach that they had taken was pragmatic, it was appropriate, and that they had clearly put in place measures to prevent this from happening in the future.’
GPs have criticised the workload involved in dealing with PEMs, saying that they are not streamlined enough and risk important information being overlooked.
It comes in the same week that the president of the College of Emergency Medicine told the Commons health committee that NHS 111 was to blame for the increase in A&E attendance, as emergency services have been struggling to cope with winter pressures.