Apology over Radlett man’s wait for out-of-hours GP service

Herts Urgent Care responds to criticism. Shaun O'Brien, pictured, drives doctors to out-of-hours app

Herts Urgent Care responds to criticism. Shaun O'Brien, pictured, drives doctors to out-of-hours appointments for the service. - Credit: Photo supplied

AN out-of-hours GP service criticised after a patient had to wait seven hours to be seen has apologised to him and explained that the lengthy response was not usual.

After a recent hip replacement operation, David Bagon was recovering at his house in Homefield Road, Radlett, when his right leg suddenly started swelling.

Concerned it might cause deep vein thrombosis, he called his GP’s surgery but because it was 7pm, he was referred to the Herts Urgent Care call-out centre.

But his phone number was recorded incorrectly, so a further call was made at 9.30pm, with a doctor saying they would visit within two hours.

After midnight David phoned again, and was told a doctor was on the way.

But at 1.30am he gave up and went to bed, only to be woken by a knock at his door at 2.30am, when a doctor had finally arrived.

The 68 year old said that the GP phoned for an ambulance, and he was taken to Watford Hospital for treatment.

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He then lodged a complaint with Herts Urgent Care, which has provided GP out-of-hours care to the county’s 1.2 million residents since 2008.

David said: “My whole leg was swollen from my hip to my toes and I couldn’t walk. I don’t think it is acceptable for it to take seven hours to reach me; it’s ridiculous.”

In response, a spokeswoman for Herts Urgent Care said that the service had apologised by mail, and chief medical officer Dr Tony Davies had personally phoned David.

She said that during January this year, 94 per cent of GP visits were completed within two hours of receiving a request for a home visit.

She explained that while the service aimed to see patients within certain time frames, “our ability to do so can be affected by the amount of activity and the complexity of patient cases on a particular day.

“On this occasion we fell short of meeting our usual high standards of service.”

Herts Urgent Care deals with an average 12,000 calls a month. Patients are given telephone advice, invited to visit a clinician at one of its 10 bases across the county or offered a home visit by a GP.

The spokeswoman pointed out that the way residents accessed health care services in the county has changed, as NHS Direct for Herts has been replaced with NHS 111.

That service, introduced locally in September last year, will be available across the UK from next month.

In this county, the service is also provided by Herts Urgent Care, to help make patient access to NHS healthcare services more straightforward.

The 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and all calls to that number from landlines or mobiles are free.

The number should be used for non-urgent medical care, to help ease pressure on the 999 emergency service and accident and emergency departments.