Hackney’s out-of-hours GP service ‘at risk’: ‘111 changes could put pressure on Homerton A&E’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 March 2017
A proposal to scrap Hackney’s out-of-hours GP service in favour of the 111 phone line could increase pressure on Homerton’s A&E department, critics have warned.
NHS England is ordering City and Hackney to “co-procure” an out-of-hours NHS England 111 service with six other commissioning groups in north east London.
Cllr Ben Hayhurst, who sits on the health scrutiny panel and is a governor at Homerton Hospital, has voiced concerns the 111 service could result in delayed diagnoses and be “counter-productive” by increasing pressure on A&E.
He told the town hall: “City and Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise [CHUHSE] has been a success story in Hackney with reports of improved provision in the out-of-hours GP service, which in turn has been credited to have contributed to a reduction in A&E admissions.
“The proposed 111 service will be staffed by non-clinician call handlers, in contrast to CHUSE where the residents’ calls are answered by GPs directly.”
A study by the Nuffield Trust claimed 111 call handlers are sending increasing numbers of callers to A&E and ambulances.
Doctors won a battle to reclaim the service from private health provider Harmoni in 2013.
It followed a shocking CQC report that year when inspectors ruled Harmoni was putting patients’ safety “at risk” because they didn’t have enough qualified staff to do the job. Since then CHUHSE has successfully run the service.
The business case for what has been dubbed the Integrated Urgent Care service will be made at City and Hackney commissioners’ governing board at the end of March.
A spokesman for NHS England said: “There are many benefits to integrating NHS 111 and GP out-of-hours services and all CCGs in north east London have agreed to move to the Integrated Urgent Care service, with a single layer of NHS 111 as the access point for urgent care.”