Cardiff Out-Of-Hours Service 'Diabolical'

A Patient Watchdog Has Branded Cardiff's Out-Of-Hours Service As "Diabolical" And Not Fit For Purpose

15.04.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

GP out-of-hours services in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are "diabolical" and should improve, according to a watchdog.

Out-of-hours care is offered to people who do not have a pressing enough issue to go to A&E, but need to be quickly seen by a doctor with prescribing powers.

Stephen Allen, a community health chief in the area, said that people are waiting too long to be assessed over the phone and many are not being given the proper treatment they need by doctors, reports the BBC

Despite out-of-hours care improvements being targeted as a priority across both the Welsh and English NHS, Mr Allen believes that too many patients are being forced to go to A&E because they are being ignored on phone lines.

In a statement released to counter the watchdog's criticism, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it is improving its service to respond to growing demand amongst the local population.

"We have concerns about the time people are taking to have calls triaged and the time it is taking for patients who are being triaged to be seen by a healthcare professional," he said.

"[I] have raised it with the health board on numerous occasions and unfortunately they are consistently missing those all important targets for the last 18 months. It's diabolical. There's no other word for it."

According to the BBC, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board serves a population of 472,000 and receives around 10,000 calls to its out-of-hours service each month.

In October 2013, one call took more than 16 hours to assess, while the government recommends that telephone triage should take place within 30 minutes and treatment offered within two hours.

Sue Morgan, head of operations and delivery for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, blamed the poor service on an increase in demand and said that staff at hospitals in the area are constantly working to make sure that patients are seen on time.

Expert Opinion
These reports are worrying for people in and around Cardiff as it would appear on this evidence that some calls are taking too long to be dealt with.

“Mr Allen says the Health Board has missed targets for the last 18 months which needs to investigated to find out what effect this is having on patient safety and what can be done to improve the situation.

“Unfortunately injury and illness don’t always happen at convenient times and all those involved in healthcare need to ensure they are best prepared to deal with calls and enquiries.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner