Out-of-hours GP care failed war veteran, claims family

IPSWICH: A family today launched a scathing attack on the out-of-hours GP service after their loved one waited 11 hours for a doctor to arrive.

War veteran Samuel Chambers, 86, who lives in sheltered housing in Ipswich and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, became ill the day after suffering a fall.

His carer, Mandy Harvey, made a call to the service on Sunday, April 25, at 4.20pm, but it was not until 3.20am the following morning that the doctor turned up.

The family has now filed an official complaint.

Harmoni, the GP out-of-hours service provider which took over on April 1, said it was investigating the case.

Jayne Bond, Mrs Harvey’s sister, said: “Mr Chambers, or as we know him ‘Uncle John’ is a dear member of our family.

“He may be just a number and patient to Harmoni, but to us, he is a dear family member, who in his difficult time in life should be treated with care and respect.”

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The case has come to light a day after The Evening Star exclusively revealed Samantha Macey’s anger over claims Harmoni did not respond properly to concerns her daughter had meningitis.

Mr Chambers, who is no blood relation but was like a father to Mrs Harvey and her siblings, was admitted to Ipswich Hospital on Thursday, April 22, after suffering a fall.

He was discharged on Friday, but was found on the floor the next day after falling again. Paramedics were called to make him comfortable.

On Sunday, Mrs Harvey became increasingly worried about him as he had not been eating or drinking. He also had a bad cough, which she suspected might be the early stages of pneumonia.

After making an initial call to a GP, Mrs Harvey had to phone three times to see where they were before the doctor eventually arrived at 3.25am, by which time Mr Chambers had fallen asleep.

The GP prescribed him medication for a chest infection and told her to make an appointment with a doctor in the morning.

Mrs Harvey said: “We feel that he is a frail old man who has been treated like an animal.”

Mrs Bond added: “He was given a customer number, too, which I think is awful. We believe Harmoni has failed him.”

A spokesman for Harmoni said: “We are very sorry Mrs Bond has found the service provided to Mr Chambers less than satisfactory.

“We naturally take any complaint very seriously and we have already instigated an investigation to discover the exact nature of the care and treatment provided to Mr Chambers.

“We would not wish to comment further until we have the results of this investigation which we will then obviously share with Mrs Bond.”

n How do you rate Harmoni’s service? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.