• Case ref:
  • Date:
    June 2011
  • Body:
    NHS 24
  • Sector(s):
  • Subject:
    clinical treatment; diagnosis; NHS 24 call handling; out-of-hours appointments
  • Outcome:
    Not upheld, no recommendations

Mrs C had felt unwell for several days. One night she telephoned NHS 24 about her symptoms. They agreed to arrange an appointment for her with the GP out-of-hours service and told her to wait for a call telling her an appointment time. Mrs C, however, felt faint and short of breath before NHS 24 called back with this and went to the out-of-hours service with no appointment. She was told she could not be seen immediately, but could wait. Because she did not feel well enough to wait, she decided to go home. Mrs C was admitted to hospital the next day and was found to have internal bleeding. She later made a number of complaints about how NHS 24 handled her call. These included that they failed to note all her symptoms or to contact her with an appointment in good time. She was concerned that this had delayed her admission to hospital.

We obtained the recording of the call, which lasted 17 minutes. During the call, Mrs C spoke to a call handler, then a nurse practitioner. The recording showed that they asked clear and appropriate questions about Mrs C’s symptoms, that Mrs C confirmed them and that she agreed the proposed action. We noted that a particular symptom, which Mrs C felt NHS 24 had ignored, was not in fact mentioned during the call. We, therefore, did not uphold her complaint that they failed to take a full history, or properly note her symptoms. They also appropriately arranged an appointment for her with the out-of-hours service. Although Mrs C felt they had asked her to attend there when she was too unwell to go, the recording showed that she did not say this to them at the time and had agreed to attend an appointment that night. She also said that she was not offered transport or a home visit, or an alternative appointment the next morning, but having investigated this we found that NHS 24 were not required to do any of these as a result of the telephone call.

The outcome on this summary page is different to the outcome that appears on the PDF below and the report laid before Parliament due to a typographical error. The outcome code on the report laid before Parliament  was 'not upheld'; it should have read 'not upheld, no recommendations'.