Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, has arranged to meet frontline staff from Integrated Care 24 (IC24) to find out first-hand about the problems raised in a critical, leaked report into its out-of-hours care.
IC24 which handles non-emergency 111 and out-of-hours GP calls in Norfolk and Wisbech, was criticised following unannounced inspections in November by Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group - the organisation which commissions the out of hours service. Issues included patients waiting more than 12 hours after their first call, a lack of GPs and staff concerns over the skills of recruits to fill the GP shortfall.
Clive Lewis said:
"What is needed now is practical action to get to the bottom of all of this - and I'm taking that action.
My concerns are to make sure that people in Norwich are getting a good out of hours service from our NHS, that worried staff are properly listened to and that IC24 and Norwich CCG are responding to those worries.
IC24 have agreed that an invitation will be extended to all staff to speak to me confidentially – without the presence of management – and that the concerned staff who were interviewed for the CCG report will get a specific invitation. I'll also speak further with managers of the service and CCG.
After that, I'll be in a truly informed position to do my job as the local MP and work with the CCG and IC24 to get improvements for patients and staff."
Commenting on the context to the issues raised, Clive continued:
"I already know that even the best managed out of hours service would struggle to cope with the disastrous consequences of Tory re-organisation, cuts and inaction on the NHS. There is a huge shortfall in the number of doctors or dentists needed by services like this and because of this government's decimation of mental health and community NHS programmes, out of hours and A+E are at the sharp end of hugely increased demand.
The Conservatives and Lib Dems' 2012 Health and Social Care changes are not only handing over £billions of NHS contracts to profit-making private health, but has also created organisational chaos in our NHS.
If you wanted to design a system that punishes transparency, drives great staff to breaking point and promotes conflicts of interest between commissioners and providers while leeching scarce funding to the shareholders of rapacious private health corporations, this is the system you'd end up with."