Fresh fears over GP cover

FRESH fears have been raised about out-of-hours health cover in Suffolk just days before a new provider is due to take over the service.

Dr Matthew McGlennon applied for a job as a senior manager with Harmoni, which is due to take over from Take Care Now (TCN) in April, but was astonished to be interviewed for a job as a GP.

Dr McGlennon, who lives in Kesgrave, near Ipswich, has never worked as a GP and said he was now worried about the level of checking the new company was undertaking – especially because TCN lost its contract following high-profile problems with a GP it had employed.

Last night, NHS Suffolk said it would be asking Harmoni about the incident.

Dr McGlennon said: “I have not worked directly with patients for 25 years and I have not worked in the health service itself for 20 years. I have never been a GP.

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“I am a doctor, but my field of work is in health policy – I have worked in organisations including the pharmaceutical industry. I was hoping to apply for a senior management job.

“When I received an invitation to an interview in Aldeburgh, I saw it was for a position as a GP. I was astonished – it was clear that was not what I was applying for.

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“They may say they would have picked this up at interview, but that hardly is the point – I am concerned about the level of checking that Harmoni is undertaking.”

NHS Suffolk announced in December that it was replacing TCN as the out-of-hours health care provider in Suffolk with Harmoni. TCN has come in for intense criticism after German doctor, Dr Daniel Ubani, who was working his first out-of-hours shift in Britain for the company in Cambridgeshire last year, gave an accidental overdose to 70-year-old David Gray, which led to his death.

An inquest into Mr Gray’s death found that he was unlawfully killed and the coroner criticised out-of-hours care, saying: “Weaknesses remain in the system.”

Nick Gordon, from Harmoni, was not familiar with Dr McGlennon’s application, but said his organisation had rigorous checks to ensure those it employed were qualified and had the right experience.

He said: “I can’t say what happened here, it could have been a secretarial error – but I am confident we would have quickly seen what the situation was.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Suffolk said they were confident that only fully-trained and accredited GPs would be employed by Harmoni – although they would be asking the new provider for details of the incident.

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