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Nursing hub leaves elderly patients hanging on

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 04, 2013

Iris Rowe at home in Westonzoyland, Somerset. A new – supposedly more efficient – nursing service has caused massive upheaval and delays for her essential home nursing visits

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More Western Daily Press readers have come forward to tell of problems getting treatment at home after calling health helplines.

A district nurse booked to change a dressing for house-bound Iris Rowe, 76, did not turn up, and a blood test was delayed by ten days.

“I am having to make expensive telephone calls; it has cost me £5 in the last two weeks. They say they will come one day and then they don’t,” said Mrs Rowe, who lives in Westonzoyland, near Bridgwater.

Her story comes the day after the Western Daily Press reported that paramedics in the region are under furious as non-emergency 111 calls are diverted down the 999 route, leaving them to pick up where others should be responding.

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Mrs Rowe’s care is co-ordinated by Bridgwater Bay District Nursing Service, set up as a hub for district nursing services formerly under the auspices of GP surgeries. The system is designed to be more efficient, ensuring that patients are seen by nurses near them.

Mrs Rowe said: “With the old system I could almost tell the time by when the nurse called. I don’t expect a nurse to come at a really specific time of day but this has been very unfortunate. I have bandages round my leg, and I can only take a shower on the day the nurse comes, when the dressing are off. I take the dressing off to have a shower, expecting that the nurse will come to give me a new dressing. They changed my day from Friday to Thursday, which was fine but no-one turned up and I was left until 8pm , and that was only after two calls.

“I have to take Warfarin and have regular blood tests but one was delayed by 10 days. I had to ask the nurse to do it and she just happened to have the kit in the car. I am housebound and elderly butstrong-minded and I do chase things but there must be some people who find this very difficult. They used to come on a Friday and check on a Monday to see that the bandage was not too tight. Last Monday I had to cut the bandages to loosen them and it took two calls before they came.”

Somerset NHS says the service is designed to deliver the same service as before, and that patients should feel confident enough to explain needs to unfamiliar nurses.

Olive Swetman, of Taunton, said it took four hours for a nurse to come to deal with a problem with her catheter late one night after she rang the 111 non-emergency number being tested in Somerset. “She told me I was lucky she came when she did, as she had not been far away but could have been in Minehead,” she said.

NHS Direct, which delivers 111 services in Somerset, said the conversation with the call handler would have been immediately passed to the local healthcare provider.

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