A Grantham pensioner who attended the town’s A&E department in severe pain has described how he was sent home and told to call 111.
Robert Smith, 68, of Barrowby Gate, attended A&E on a Sunday at 10am with earache, a recurring problem, which resulted in his face swelling up.
He went to look for help in the out-of-hours GP unit, to be told that there was no doctor in the department and that he would need an appointment through NHS helpline 111. He was then directed to the minor injuries unit to see if the service might see him without an appointment.
There, he was told to ring 111 for an appointment, so he went home. The call-handler advised him to go to his nearest out-of-hours unit, which they said was Melton Mowbray – stating Grantham as the second choice.
Half an hour later he arrived at Grantham’s out-of-hours unit again. After ringing the doorbell, Mr Smith was met by a nurse, who hadto call 111 to verify his story, but the service was not able to find any record of him on their system. Mr Smith was then allowed to see a doctor and antibiotics were prescribed.
Mr Smith told the Journal: “It was very frustrating. My face was very swollen and I could not swallow. I think the system fell down, both with 111 and the hospital. My only other option would have been to see a pharmacist at Asda but I am not sure they would have been there on a Sunday to prescribe the antibiotics I needed.”
Craig Mclean, deputy director of operations at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “We have been made aware of an issue relating to access to the out-of-hours service in Grantham and have been working with the new 111 provider to ensure they are using the most up-to-date information available when supporting patients to make appointments.
“We have been assured this issue is now resolved and apologise for any confusion this may have caused. Colleagues working in A&E are also able to ‘divert’ patients directly to out-of-hours if they feel the service is more appropriate for the patients’ needs.
“While the out-of-hours service has had to be relocated on the Grantham Hospital site to the Kingfisher Suite, the service itself remains unchanged. The service provides urgent medical care countywide outside of normal GP hours, with appointments booked via 111. An additional enhanced out-of-hours service is also temporarily available in the Kingfisher Suite at Grantham, 6.30pm to 11.30pm, seven days a week, while A&E is operating with reduced hours. This allows patients to walk in without an appointment if they have suffered a minor injury, such as cuts, burns, sprains or suspected fractures.
“We are unable to comment on individual cases but would always encourage patients or their families to come and talk to us directly when they have questions or concerns about the care they have received.”