Patient death sparks medical care probe

OUT of hours medical care in Suffolk is being scrutinised today after a doctor working for an Ipswich-based health company accidentally gave a patient a lethal overdose of drugs.

OUT of hours medical care in Suffolk is being scrutinised today after a doctor working for an Ipswich-based health company accidentally gave a patient a lethal overdose of drugs.

Take Care Now (TCN) is being investigated by health watchdogs over a series of concerns about its performance, including the tragedy which happened in Cambridgeshire last year.

The company, which caused outrage in Suffolk by scooping the contract to run sexual health services despite claims it did not have thorough plans in place to do so, has been criticised by patients in the past.

Today Woodbridge mother Toni Wright, whose daughter Colette was sent home from the Riverside Clinic by a TCN doctor in December, said she had concerns about its quality of care.

Nationally the Care Quality Commission (CQC) launched the probe after it emerged a German doctor, Dr Daniel Ubani who was employed by TCN, administered ten times too much painkiller to David Gray, 70, in February 2008.

Dr Ubani was given a nine-month suspended prison sentence in Germany for the negligence which caused Mr Gray's death.

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Today it also emerged that another patient died after being treated by Dr Ubani on his first shift after TCN's induction, and a woman in her 50s needed hospital treatment.

Meanwhile the incidents raised concerns about TCN's medicine management and induction processes.

CQC's head of investigations and enforcement Christine Braithwaite said: “We are aware of a number of concerns in relation to out-of-hours care provided by Take Care Now to the NHS.”

TCN won the contract, worth nearly �6million, four years ago, after doctors were allowed to opt-out of providing care in the evenings and at weekends.

David Cocks, chief executive of TCN: “Our response has been focused on doing everything we can to ensure such a tragedy could never happen again. We have and will continue to fully cooperative with the inquiries into this matter.”

While Julian Herbert, deputy chief executive of NHS Suffolk, said patients should continue to have faith in out of hours services.

“Patient safety is our primary concern. All the services we commission meet high standards of quality and safety and people should have confidence in them for their urgent or routine needs.”

Are you happy with out of hours care in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.