World Incidents

‘Lack of GPs willing to work’ forces Glasgow health unit closures on busiest night of the year

The health board has apologised after an elderly patient, was transferred between between two hospitals and seen by four different health services over a 10-hour period, because of the problem.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it was unable to staff out-of-hours GP cover at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and in the Easterhouse area on Saturday, December 1.

Anne Hughes, 75, from Renfrew, was taken to the out-of-hours service at the QEUH by her daughter Catherine at around 6.30pm after complaining of feeling drowsy, confused and unwell and after taking advice from a pharmacist.

However, when they arrived they were told by a nurse that the service was shut and advised to go to accident and emergency.

When they arrived an A&E nurse told Catherine they ‘were in the wrong place’ and they were advised to go to out of hours services at the RAH in Paisley or the New Victoria Hospital.

Catherine called a relative, from Lanarkshire, to take them to Paisley as they didn’t have a car. They were seen by a doctor at the out of the hours service and later transferred to A&E for tests and treatment for acute pyelonephritis – a kidney infection.

Catherine said: “We eventually got discharged from the RAH A&E at 5.08am and got back home at 5.30am which was now over 10 hours later after first seeking medical assistance at the QEUH and almost 12 hours after first seeking medical advice from the pharmacist.

“There needs to be other processes in place for patients who attend the QEUH if their out of hours services are closed for any reason to ensure that they can swiftly access the appropriate care that they need eg there should be processes in place for patients to be seen within the A&E at the QEUH for patients who are requiring assessment so as not to further delay their access to prompt treatment.

“Throughout, the care that we received from all other the health professionals was professional, diligent and apologetic for our situation as they recognised that we had been given the runaround.”

The health board has apologised and said Mrs Hughes should not have been transferred between services but advised patients to contact NHS 24 to ensure they were directed to the ‘most appropriate service.’

Earlier this year, it emerged that GP shortages had led to out-of-hours closures more than 100 times in Glasgow over a 12-month period.

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: “Due to a lack of GPs willing to work, we were unable to fill some shifts at the QEUH and Easterhouse GP Out of Hours service on Saturday 1 December.

“All other out of hours services were open as scheduled as was the Home Visits service.

“However, the patient should not have been sent between services and we apologise for this.

“The challenge of finding GPs willing to staff the Out of Hours Rotas is not an issue unique to NHSGGC and we are looking at how best to deliver a sustainable GP out-of-hours service across the Board area.

“We would remind any patient not to attend a GP out-of-hours service without first calling NHS 24 who will direct them to most appropriate healthcare service for their needs.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said visits to emergency and minor injury units were up 56 per cent on the previous year on Tuesday, last week – causing longer waits for patients.

Staff dealt with 1,816 patients across all of their sites, an increase of 654 patients for the same day last year. The increase was attributed to the cold snap leading to a surge in slip and trip injuries.

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