Cancer patient waits nine hours for treatment

AN investigation is taking place today into out-of-hours medical care after a cancer patient had to wait nine hours for treatment.

Naomi Gornall

AN investigation is taking place today into out-of-hours medical care after a cancer patient had to wait nine hours for treatment.

Annette Stemmer, from Ipswich, was forced to call for an ambulance to tend to her sick husband, Steve, after making eight phone calls over nine hours to the out-of-hours GP service, run by private firm Take Care Now (TCN).

Mrs Stemmer said that on Saturday morning, at around 9.30am, she was advised to get in touch with the out-of-hours service because her husband, who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer, was not well and she did not know if this was due to the new drugs he had been prescribed.

The doctor asked her if she could take her husband to the Riverside Clinic in Ipswich but she claimed he was in too much pain, so was told there would be a GP coming round to see him.

The GP said he would be there before lunch but never turned up. Mrs Stemmer called a number of times between 12pm and 4pm with no result.

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She said: “I phoned at 4pm and they said the response time was within six hours. I said I have been waiting six and a half hours and she said we were next on the list and the doctor would be with us within an hour.

“My husband was in a lot of pain. It got to the point where it got to 6.30pm and I thought I cannot let him suffer like this any longer so I called an ambulance. They got here within minutes.

“I felt I let him down by letting it go on that long.”

A doctor from the out-of-hours service, who had just started a shift, eventually arrived at 7.10pm, and said urgent cases should be dealt within two hours.

Mrs Stemmer, who is making an official complaint, said: “I feel very let down.”

Mr Stemmer is still in hospital with a suspected blood clot on his lungs.

Dr James Kennedy, medical director at TCN, said: “We saw an unprecedented increase in the number of calls on Saturday to around 1,800 compared with 1,300 for the previous weekend.

“However, nothing can excuse the length of time that Mr and Mrs Stemmer had to wait to be seen by a doctor particularly given the repeated calls to our service.

“We are carrying out a full investigation and I would like to assure Mr and Mrs Stemmer that we are determined to understand what happened and eliminate the possibility of it happening again. We will inform Mr and Mrs Stemmer of the outcome.”

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