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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
'It didn't work for my mother'
The number of serious complaints about out-of-hours care has soared in recent years.

The rise has coincided with changes in evening and weekend provision. Most local GPs have opted out of providing the care, and patients believe it means services have suffered.

Vivienne Brooks
Out-of-hours care was overhauled in 2004

A common complaint of patients who experience out-of-hours care is that they face delays and poor standards of care.

Vivienne Brooks, from Winchester in Hampshire, says the care her mother received was no different.

Her mother, Sheila Blunt, was dying of bone cancer when her family requested out-of-hours help on a Saturday morning two years ago.

The 69-year-old had been ill for some time and her family had promised her she would not die in a hospital. But it was not until 7.30pm that night that a GP turned up to give her diazepam.

She was unable to swallow the tablet so the doctor left without her having taken the sedative.

The following day a district nurse arrived to give her a dissolvable version of the drug.

It didn't work for my mother. There was no out-of-hours care
Vivienne Brooks

By Monday, when normal services had resumed, she was on morphine and died that evening.

But Ms Brooks is still angry at the way her mother was treated.

She said: "Her care was not good enough.

I do not believe he [the doctor] even had any access to any medical records."

She said there was a problem with the way out-of-hours care is set up.

In areas where doctors opted out of providing the care in 2004, the responsibility was passed to local health chiefs working for primary care trusts to make alternative arrangements.

Most PCTs have employed private firms or groups of doctors working under a co-operative agreement to provide the service centrally.

But Ms Brooks says: "I think out-of-hours care should be run from the surgery that the patients is registered at, otherwise it is not going to work.

"It didn't work for my mother. There was no out-of-hours care."

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