Published: 00:00, 29 February 2016 |
Updated: 18:10, 29 February 2016
South East Coast Ambulance Service has refuted claims made in a national newspaper that its handling of NHS 111 calls led to patient deaths.
Some ambulances were deliberately delayed under a secret policy authorised by chief executive Paul Sutton.
Today The Telegraph reported details of a leaked report which it said had linked at least 11 fatalities to the policy.
It meant some NHS 111 non-emergency calls were transferred to the 999 emergency system to give staff up to 10 minutes more time to respond to the call, increasing how long some patients were waiting for ambulances.
Extra response time was given to calls which were placed in the second most serious category - these are for issues that may be life threatening but are less time critical.
Due to national standards 75% of these calls have to be dealt with within eight minutes, but under the project the trust gave itself up to 10 extra minutes to re-assess what type of advice or treatment the patients needed and whether an ambulance was required.
But SECAmb has refuted the claims, saying they came from a report which looked at governance in the organisation, and the relevant probe into patient outcomes was yet to be completed.
A Trust spokesperson said: “Until it is concluded it is inaccurate and completely misleading to attribute or imply any harm or deaths to the pilot.
“However, in the preliminary work to date, no clear indications of patient harm have been identified. Indeed, the review has identified a number of seriously ill patients who received an improved response due to earlier clinical intervention as a consequence of the pilot.”
One watchdog said the claims were worrying but assured patients there were no concerns with the current 111 service.
Healthwatch Kent's Steve Inett said, "Naturally we are concerned to hear patients were affected by changes to ambulance response times last winter.
“We have not seen a copy of the leaked report which is mentioned in the media today. However, we are working with both the Ambulance Trust and the regulator Monitor.
“In the meantime, we would like to reassure people we have no current concerns about the 999 or 111 service. If you are concerned or worried, then do please contact us in confidence and share your experience with us, be it good or bad. You can call us anytime for free on 0808 801 0102.”
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
Your No1 guide to getting married in Kent. From dresses to discos and venues to veils, we've got everything you could possibly need for your big day
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating!
PLUS, register for free!.
Read our pick of the best holiday destinations. Whether its a weekend break, or something a little bit longer, we have reviewed a wide range of holidays.