After hours GP service claims it is “fully prepared”

SUFFOLK’S out-of-hours care provider, which struggled to cope with the demand at Easter, claims it is fully prepared for the forthcoming Bank Holiday.

Harmoni, which took over the county’s after hours GP care from Take Care Now on April 1, was heavily criticised for its service over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Though a few claimed they experienced a good service, several people complained of long waits to see doctors and whistleblowers got in touch to lift the lid on unfilled shifts, overworked doctors and lack of training for call centre workers.

Although Harmoni admitted it struggled to cope with the number of patients, bosses are now confident that three weeks on, they have been able to evaluate systems and now have the infrastructure in place to cope with the demand for the first May Bank Holiday weekend.

Penny Flack, Harmoni’s director of development, said: “Since taking over the Suffolk out-of-hours service on April 1, we have had three weeks to evaluate systems and procedures at first-hand which has been very useful indeed.

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“This experience will ensure that we are fully prepared for the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

“Whilst it is difficult accurately forecasting demand for health services, we are confident we will have an infrastructure in place to provide a first rate service for anyone needing healthcare over the Bank Holiday weekend.

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“I would like to take this opportunity though to remind people that they can help us and themselves with a little forward-planning. Make sure you have enough prescribed medicine by getting a repeat prescription now and check that your medicine cabinet is stocked with the essentials.

“I’d also like to remind people that the out-of-hours service is not a walk-in service.

“Over the Easter holiday weekend, we had a number of people who just turned up expecting to be seen.

“I should stress that people needing GP services out-of-hours should, in the first instance, telephone the out-of-hours number, 0300 130 3066, when their condition will be assessed and they will be then be advised what to do from there.

“This ensures the system works most efficiently for everyone.”

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