Measures in place to ensure patient safety

A review of out-of-hours healthcare has said robust measures are in place to ensure the safety of patients.

The inspection of Norfolk and Great Yarmouth and Waveney’s medical help at weekends or evenings was commissioned in the wake of the death of a pensioner given a fatal overdose by a foreign doctor.

The inspection was put in place by NHS East of England across the region to ensure the service continued to be safe for patients following the death of David Gray in Cambridgeshire in 2008. He was given a tenfold overdose of diamorphine by Daniel Ubani, who had just flown in from Germany.

Both the out-of-hours services in Norfolk and Great Yarmouth and Waveney were found to have good induction schemes for accrediting new locum doctors before they started.

NHS Norfolk’s out-of-hours service is run by the East of England Ambulance Service. It employs a team of mainly local GPs who provide emergency primary care to patients from a mixture of fixed bases and roving vehicles.

The report acknowledges there are particular challenges in Norfolk because of its remote geographic areas and an ageing population.

But it said the service was strengthened by the number of local doctors employed, which is reflected by public confidence in the service.

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Dr Bryan Heap, NHS Norfolk’s medical director, said: “We welcomed this inspection and we are pleased to acknowledge the subsequent report confirms we have a sharper focus on quality and performance.”

NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney commissions its out-of-hours service from independent provider Harmoni.

Its service was praised for the way it managed patients as they moved through the healthcare system.

Pam Fenner, director of nursing and quality with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said: “This visit was designed to provide assurances on the quality of the out-of-hours service we commission for our patients, as well as the processes we have in place for monitoring the contract we have with Harmoni.”

The out-of-hours reports were discussed at both NHS trusts’ board meetings yesterday.