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Ipswich: Suspensions at county’s 111 call centre prompt request for probe from Labour councillors

PUBLISHED: 21:40 12 June 2014

The NHS 111 call centre

The NHS 111 call centre

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Labour councillors on two authorities are calling for an independent investigation into the suspension of two staff members from Suffolk’s NHS 111 call centre.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere and Suffolk County Council shadow spokesman for health and adult care, Sarah Adams, have also claimed the company running the non-emergency service, Care UK, should be barred from re-bidding for the contract when it comes up for renewal.

Care UK announced this week that it had suspended two employees, pending an investigation into management practices.

Although the company, which runs both the NHS 111 call centre in Ipswich and the out-of-hours GP service, insists there is no evidence to suggest any falsification of data or that patient safety was affected, the borough councillors want to see the matter brought before Suffolk County Council’s health scrutiny committee.

In a letter to the committee’s chairman Michael Ladd, Mr Ellesmere and Ms Adams said: “Care UK need to be open and transparent and give details of what has happened and why they took the very serious action of suspending staff.

“Without these details, many people will assume the worst and that patient safety may have been compromised. We do not believe that an internal investigation by Care UK into this incident is sufficient.

“The only way to get to the bottom of this is by a full, independent investigation.

“We also call on you to ensure, that whilst an independent investigation is ongoing, and before any recommendations from that investigation are implemented, that Care UK should not be allowed to re-bid for the contract to run the NHS 111 service.”

A Care UK spokesman said: “Care UK is investigating an allegation around management practice within our Ipswich call centre following an internal review of the way some call centre processes were handled.

“The performance reporting received by NHS commissioners cannot in any case be altered by anyone working within the service.

“The investigation relates only to suggestions of sub-optimal management practices within the call centre over the period since February 2014. Two individuals have been suspended while our investigation is completed.

“Care UK requires the utmost professional standards from its leadership team and our actions reflect the importance we place on such an issue.”

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