A DAMNING report today revealed patients are being put at risk by an out-of-hours service.
An NHS Kirklees-commissioned report described a GP mobile system as “unfit for purpose” and says that patients are being put at “significant risk” of harm because of it.
A review of systems used by West Yorkshire Urgent Care was conducted by Dr David Carson of the Primary Care Foundation.
His report found that the overall NHS-funded service “does not functionally appear compliant” with rules laid down in 2006.
The review follows concerns from local GPs about a computerised system – SystmOne – used by West Yorkshire Urgent Care.
Dr Carson said doctors had raised issues about “reliability, usability and patient safety” in connection with the mobile device supplied with SystmOne, which is manufactured by TPP.
Dr Carson said logging on to the mobile version could take 15 minutes at night and GPs were forced to read tiny laptop screens using a six-point font.
“There is a significant risk that the poor resolution combined with the lack of keyboard lighting will result in errors of data entry or recording,” his report found.
He said gaps in the service meant doctors were hand-writing notes that should have been computerised and some patient records had still not been entered after a week.
In turn, the system does not make it obvious that a patient may have contacted the service days before, with different out-of-hours GPs treating each call as a new case as they may not be able to access any previous notes.
West Yorkshire Urgent Care is funded by all West Yorkshire NHS Trusts and is made up of several providers, including NHS Direct, private firm Care UK and not-for-profit group Local Care Direct.
The report goes on to add: “Inquiries and interviews with staff in all three providers identified a range of issues relating to information flows, updating of information in a timely fashion (and) availability of information to frontline clinicians.”
Dr Carson said in his study: “Any system which requires so many parallel manual safety procedures and work-arounds to ensure patients’ calls do not get lost must be classified as being unfit for the purpose to which it is being used.
“The deficiencies are more serious when considered in the context of a complex provider network working across a number of different organisations.
“When one considers the volume of calls being handled I have no doubt there is a risk of significant harm to patients.
“I cannot emphasise enough the serious concern that I have in relation to the issues identified.”
A statement from TPP said there were errors in the report in relation to SystmOne, but would not elaborate on what the errors were.
A statement released by TPP says: “TPP was pleased to attend the review meeting when Dr Carson’s report was received.
“During the meeting TPP was able to correct errors within the report; as a consequence a follow up meeting was held to review the system functionality.
“Where problems were identified TPP was pleased to be able to provide rapid improvements to the software.
“We are continuing to work with the service commissioners and the providers to deliver system enhancements.”
A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Urgent Care Services said: “Dr Carson’s review showed that there were some issues that we needed to tackle to make sure that we reduced clinical risk.
“These were issues which we had already been working on. Some of them have already been resolved and an action plan is in place to make sure that we complete all outstanding actions promptly.
“Dr Carson has confirmed that he is content that delivery of the action plan will address all the issues identified in his report.”
Dr Mark Napper, clinical lead for the commissioners of the West Yorkshire Urgent Care Services added: “Extra measures have been put in place to ensure patient safety until these outstanding actions are completed.”