East Kent Out of Hours and NHS 111 Service in Special Measures

Steve Evans looks at the Nestor Primecare Services report published by the Care Quality Commission in August 2017 and its ramifications.

Primecare – East Kent provides the Out of Hours (OOH) GP and NHS 111 service to our local area so it provides urgent medical care and advice out of hours across East Kent (as well as other areas of the country).

Following a comprehensive CQC inspection in May 2017 the service is now rated as INADEQUATE and has been placed in Special Measures. The inspection judged the quality of care, including whether the services provided were safe, effective and caring.

After a three day inspection, the Chief Inspector Professor Steve Field served warning notices in three areas:-

  • Safe care and treatment
  • Good governance
  • Staffing

Within the report there are some key findings including:

  • Patient’s care needs were not always assessed and delivered in a timely way.
  • Staff reported that they could not access patient’s records.
  • Staff training was not comprehensive and some staff did not feel fully supported by management.
  • When errors were made not all staff were clear about reporting incidents and near misses.
  • Investigations were superficial and there was limited evidence of learning from mistakes.
  • There were long delays dealing with complaints.

When a service is placed in Special Measures it is inspected again within 6 months and if insufficient improvements have been made there are procedures to prevent the provider from operating the service.

Interestingly The Canterbury Times has reported that Primecare recently served notice to terminate its contract which means that an interim provider of services will be in place from July 2018 whatever the outcome of Special Measures.

The Out of Hours and NHS 111 are vital services and it is most unfortunate that 700,000 East Kent patients have received an inadequate service for more than 2 years.

An inadequate rating is highly significant but Special Measures will give patients some reassurance that the care provided by Primecare – East Kent should improve and it is important to note there will be no disruption to the service.

However it is a concern that Primecare has decided to terminate the contract which means that potential sanctions for failure to improve the service will have little bite.

With only one other Primecare location rated as inadequate throughout the country this CQC report is bad news for East Kent.

The full Care Quality Commission report is located at http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/new_reports/AAAG6635.pdf

Steve Evans is a Senior Medical Negligence Solicitor who deals with a broad spectrum of claims.

If you or a family member have suffered at the hands of Primecare and need the assistance of an experienced and accredited team of Medical Negligence Solicitors then please do not hesitate to phone us free on 0800 999 5585, request a call back or submit your case details.