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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.’