THE out-of-hours doctor service accused of misdiagnosing a young Ellesmere Port student leaving her in a coma has been granted a new contract.
Management boards of Liverpool and Knowsley Primary Care Trusts (PCT) have approved the granting of a new three-year contact to Wavertree-based UC24 (Urgent Care 24), which has provided the service for the past three years.
The company has been the subject of several complaints of misdiagnosis and patient confidentiality.
But both PCTs say the company beat competition hands down to win the contract and the vast majority of patients are happy with the service.
Last year, 21-year-old Christie Millar, from Great Sutton, spent six weeks in a coma having been rushed into hospital by her family with a ruptured appendix.
Her family claim a locum doctor at UC24’s walk-in medical centre in Old Swan gave her an anti-sickness injection and sent her home. Soon after, she was fighting for her life in hospital.
As a result she now uses a wheelchair, needs a kidney transplant and has lost part of her memory.
After complaining to UC24 and the General Medical Council – both of which said the doctor was not in contravention of any guidelines and there were no “fitness to practice” issues to address – Miss Millar referred her complaint to the Health Complaints Commission (HCC).
The HCC also exonerated the GP but did uphold her complaint that she was not swabbed before being injected and was left bleeding as no swabs were available.
Leone Beaver, director of strategy for Liverpool PCT, said: “Patient reaction shows that UC24 is within the top 25% of providers and the vast majority are pleased with the service.”
Chris Mimnagh, medical director at Knowsley PCT, said: “You have got to remember that UC24 is contacted 75,000 times every year and the amount of complaints is tiny.
“A campaign is being launched over the next few weeks to help inform people about how to access services in the best way.”
Dr Rob Barnett, secretary of the Local Medical Committee and a Liverpool GP who was involved in the selection process, added: “An important factor in the decision to award the new contact to UC24 was their commitment to delivering a locally-based service and UC24 is largely staffed by the same local GPs who provide services during normal hours.”
Sefton PCT has favoured a different provider and chose Integrated Care Sefton (ICS) to deliver its out of hours care.