The Covid Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS) has stopped nurses and allied health professionals – such as paramedics – from handling patient calls after an audit revealed more than half did not pass safety criteria.
At least one patient suffered ‘potential harm’ due to a ‘serious’ incident with the way their assessment was handled by staff, it has been revealed.
A spokesperson for the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the CCAS, said it was providing ‘additional training’ for nurses and AHPs to ‘support CCAS in the future’.
A leaked email sent to CCAS staff on Friday and seen by The Independent said that ‘call audits resulted in a number of clinical incidents having to be raised’.
The email said: ‘Following pausing nurses and allied healthcare professionals working on the CCAS in order to strengthen the training requirements for this cohort of staff, we have undertaken a further round of call audits of nurses and AHPs as agreed.
‘Since pausing, we have listened to a significant number of calls and so far over 60% of calls have not passed the criteria demonstrating a safe call.’
Enid Povey, clinical assurance director for the National Pandemic Response Service at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust told staff that the incidents are ‘currently being investigated’.
One incident was ‘escalated [as] a serious untoward incident with potential harm to the patient’, she added.
She said: ‘We have therefore taken the difficult decision to continue to pause all nurses and AHPs working on CCAS. No further shifts will be allocated at present, and any confirmed shifts or audit shifts will be cancelled.
‘We do fully appreciate the impact this will have on you and we did not make this decision lightly, however, we hope you will support us in putting our patients’ safety first while we scope out what additional support can be offered. Patient safety is our top priority in reaching this difficult decision.’
It comes as non-medical staff first had their shifts on the coronavirus hotline paused in July, according to the Independent.
A spokesperson for the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘CCAS has played a vital role in helping over 165,000 patients in our local communities receive first-class care and will continue to be delivered by GPs and other medical staff, while we continue to provide additional training for nurses and AHPs, to support CCAS in the future.’
They added that GPs and other medical staff make up 96% of the CCAS workforce, with nurses and AHPs accounting for the remaining 4%.
According to the new NHS People Plan published last month, more than 500 retired GPs have returned to work alongside 1,000 locums and other GPs for the CCAS.
The service was set up to further triage Covid-19 patients after the NHS 111 algorithm has been unable to determine whether or not they need hospital admission – but GPs warned they faced bureaucratic hurdles to join it.
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