Ealing Urgent Care Chiefs to Face Grilling

Care UK claim staff deceived by TV documentary team

Related Links

New Emergency Unit for Ealing Hospital

Ealing Hospital Not an Open or Shut Case

ActonW3.com, ChiswickW4.com and EalingToday.co.uk

Comment on this story on the forum

Health chiefs responsible for Ealing Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre (UCC) are being asked to attend an Ealing Council meeting to answer questions about the service after a TV documentary brought to light concerns about medical care.
Care UK, the private company that runs the UCC, has been asked to attend the next meeting of the Health and Adult Social Services Scrutiny Panel after secret filming by ITV’s Exposure programme. 

The programme alleged that hospital doctors deliberately discharged patients before they are treated to avoid NHS waiting time penalties.

Undercover reporter, Alice McShane said, “The most striking bit of evidence I saw that they were fiddling their targets was probably on one occasion a doctor clearly discharged a patient on their system just so they would stay within the 4-hour target that they're given from the management. If they breach this target and patients aren't seen within four hours they incur a financial penalty.”

Care UK claim that the documentary was stitched together selective quotes obtained by deceiving staff, with an ‘expert commentary’ from a rival commercial company and that the programme wholly failed to substantiate any of the allegations it raised regarding standards for the assessment of patients or the claimed manipulation of targets.

They say clinical safety review carried out by senior NHS clinicians following ITV’s allegations to assess whether a safe service is being delivered found no immediate cause for concern and advised that patients can continue to use the service with confidence. They have also accused ITV of compromising patient confidentiality and exploiting patients without their consent or knowledge.

Care UK’s managing director for primary care, Suzanne Lawrence, said: “Clinicians throughout NHS urgent and out of hours services have very real concerns about staffing levels, resources and, at times, the impact of target regimes. To have secretly recorded some of these concerns by tricking individuals is no particular journalistic achievement – but it remains wholly misleading and inaccurate to suggest that such comments present a comprehensive or accurate picture of a service.

“Not all services are the same, and some, such as Ealing Urgent Care Centre, are asked to deal with very high demand and with a large number of patients with complex conditions, in a service with limited resources and space. The way in which the service operates is agreed with NHS commissioners to be safe and effective. A review undertaken by the NHS this month confirmed this.”

The council is not involved in managing the hospital, but does have the power to review and scrutinise the delivery of health services in the area. 

The panel will hear from representatives from Ealing’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – the body responsible for the Care UK contract – which has also launched an independent clinical review, as well as senior managers from Care UK.
Residents can come along to the scrutiny meeting at the town hall at 7pm on Wednesday 9 September.  Patients can also comment about their experience of the Ealing Urgent Care Centre by responding to a survey being run by Healthwatch, the national consumer body for medical care.

Health and Adult Social Services Scrutiny Panel Chair, Councillor Peter Mason, said: “The programme showed some very concerning practices at the urgent care centre. It is important that we get to the truth, so residents and patients alike can have confidence in their local healthcare services."

For more information about the meeting contact Anna-Marie Rattray on 020 8825 8227 or email rattraya@ealing.gov.uk

To respond to the Healthwatch Ealing survey visit www.healthwatchealing.co.uk/news/ealing-hospital-urgent-care-centre .

August 19, 2015