Out-of-hours doctors service says sorry after woman left waiting 10 hours for help

Ann Walters
Ann Walters
  • Care UK has apologised for communication errors
  • Cited high volume of demand for delays
  • Ann Walters was found dead by her son 10 hours after she called NHS 111
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THE son of a woman who called for medical help but was found dead 10 hours later said a new report shows the out-of-hours doctors service ‘showed a lack of care and diligence’.

Ann Walters was discovered by her son Lawrence Thorpe – 10 hours after she called NHS 111, on December 28, last year, at 8.20am.

It shows a lack of care and diligence shown by the service and that it wasn’t following its own protocols

Lawrence Thorpe

At 8.31am, the 111 service passed the call on to the Hampshire Doctor’s On Call, which at the time was run by Care UK, and requested a call was made within the hour.

In a report written by Care UK, it is revealed that a call was made at 9.25am, but there was no response. Further calls were made at 3.34pm and 4.40pm, where there was no answer.

A fourth call was made at 4.48pm, which prompted the person to check if Ms Walters was with the ambulance service or at hospital.

Neither service had record of that, so a home call was called for.

A doctor arrived at the 61-year-old’s address in St Piran’s Avenue, Baffins, at 8.20pm, to find Ms Walters had been pronounced dead around two hours earlier.

Care UK identified ‘significant delays’ in the second and third calls being made, an 80-minute delay for a doctor to carry out the home visit, and apologised for delays in communicating to Mr Thorpe.

Mr Thorpe, 24, said: ‘The report is laughable and a real kick in the teeth.

‘It shows a lack of care and diligence shown by the service and that it wasn’t following its own protocols.’

Care UK said it was experiencing a high level of work.

Dr Jon Craig, from Care UK, said: ‘Again, we offer our sincere condolences.

‘We have apologised to Mr Thorpe for the lack of communication with him, which was the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding between ourselves and partner organisations.

‘The lessons learned following the independent review of what happened have been widely shared across our out-of-hours teams.

‘Unfortunately on the day Ms Walters died, urgent care services across the whole country were experiencing demand that was very significantly above all expectations.

‘It was during the bank holiday period when most normal GP surgeries had been closed for four days.

‘Our clinicians all worked flat out round-the-clock dealing with patients on the phone and making visits to people’s homes but delays were inevitable across the entire system.’

Ms Walters, who was known to have a heart condition and was having difficulty breathing when she first called the helpline.