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Inquiries into out of hours service

PUBLISHED: 10:29 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:08 03 July 2010

The details of an inquiry into an out-of-hours GP service which covers parts of Norfolk and Suffolk were announced yesterday.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to investigate out-of-hours services provided by Ipswich-based Take Care Now (TCN), following the death of David Gray, who lived in Manea in the Fens.

The details of an inquiry into an out-of-hours GP service which covers parts of Norfolk and Suffolk were announced yesterday.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to investigate out-of-hours services provided by Ipswich-based Take Care Now (TCN), following the death of David Gray, who lived in Manea in the Fens. He was given an overdose of diamorphine by an out-of-hours doctor from Germany. Since then it has emerged that similar, though less serious, incidents have happened to patients in Suffolk.

TCN provides out-of-hours doctor cover to Yarmouth and Waveney, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Worcestershire and parts of Essex through contracts with the local health trusts. The rest of Norfolk is covered by the East of England Ambulance Service's out-of-hours doctor cover, which is a separate organisation.

Christine Braithwaite, head of investigations and enforcement at the CQC, said: “Our number one concern is the safety of patients, and we will be looking closely at the contributory factors to the care provided in specific cases, as well as thoroughly examining the current systems in place. If we find areas of concern that require immediate attention, we will not hesitate to use our powers to make sure the safety of patients is not compromised.”

Yesterday the CQC said it would look at a whole range of issues, including what changes have been made after recent incidents and whether more improvements are needed. It will look closely at call-taking and responses, staffing - including recruitment, training and how poor performance is addressed - and its medicines procedures. It will also look at the role health trusts play in monitoring TCN and acting on patient safety incidents, and how lessons learned or complaints are shared between the organisations.

The review will go back to events since April 2007. TCN has said it will co-operate fully with the investigation.

There will be telephone interviews with people who have used TCN services, and current and former TCN and health trust staff. Anyone who has relevant information can contact the CQC by emailing mark.tempest@cqc.org.uk or telephoning 0207 448 9207.


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