Patients Need Medically Trained Staff and Not Call Centre Trainees Says Primary Care Professionals
An investigation by the Daily Mail has revealed that call centre staff, often with just three weeks of training and not qualified as medically trained practitioners, have been advising people on the NHS Out of Hours Hotline.
The hotline, which replaced NHS Direct, was set up to deal with urgent cases and the newspaper reports on the tragedy of two young children who died owing to mis diagnoses by people who missed serious symptoms and who were following a computer tick box system rather than referring worried parents to a nurse or doctor.
The investigation also discovered a worryingly few number of nurses were on standby for 2.3million people and over half a million sick patients couldn’t reach anyone at all, resulting in 75% of calls going unanswered.
Hertfordshire based medical recruitment company Primary Care Professionals has been recruiting and providing nurses and doctors for the NHS since 2013. Tawhid Juneja the company’s founder and MD says “The investigation is truly shocking and will worry patients throughout the UK who depend on the services of the NHS, especially for their children and the sick and elderly. It’s no secret that there has been a shortfall of nurses and doctors in the NHS for some time and never moreso than for out of hours services.
“We completely understand the enormous pressures that NHS staff have to cope with and the genuine concerns of patients who urgently want to get the services they need.
With this in mind, some time ago we set up a 24/7 out of hours service, which covers weekdays and weekends, so that we can always provide nurses and doctors on call at relatively short notice. We have very strict medical criteria for the doctors and nurses we have on our database and in an emergency we can provide help for practices and centres who may be understaffed and under pressure.
“The only long term solution is for the NHS to ensure that across the board there are enough Out of Hours staff to cope with demand and not just in A&E departments which are already overloaded. It’s neither fair on patients nor for the call centre staff who are not medically trained to take responsibility for sometimes life and death decisions, as we have seen in the papers today.”