STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Exposure: NHS Out Of Hours Undercover. Put this date in your diaries

Put this date in your diaries  Wed 22 Jul 2015 10.40pm – 11.40pm on ITV

Exposure: NHS Out Of Hours Undercover

Exposure goes undercover in a privately-run NHS out-of-hours centre and finds doctors not fully trained, targets being manipulated, and patients being asked to assess their own symptoms because the unit is too busy. According to the last GP-patient survey, almost half the public have no idea how to contact out-of-hours services, and last year the Royal College of General Practitioners said doctors were being undermined by ‘a chaotic and underfunded system’.

Covert footage filmed at a centre run by the UK’s biggest private provider of out-of-hours care shows chronic understaffing and medicine cabinets empty of vital drugs. Staff say recent changes aimed at hitting financial targets have affected the service they provide to patients. And experts who view the footage with reporter Mark Austin give a damning assessment of what they see, saying the practices on show could pose a risk to patients’ health.

Prof Susan Mason, one of the country’s top experts in emergency care, says: “I would have concerns that patient care is not at the heart of what they’re doing… I don’t think this is really in line with the true values of the NHS.” Dr Peter Holden, the British Medical Association’s special advisor on urgent and unscheduled care, says: “I have to say, if I worked a shift in this [unit], it would only be a single shift  and I’d be blowing whistles… I’d be telling them what I thought.”

The producer-director of this programme is Richard Butchins, and the executive producer is David Henshaw, for Hardcash.

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