Praising out of hours

I WAS saddened to read your story concerning the NHS Out of Hours service experienced by a local family (Citizen January 5).

I would like to balance this with not one but two good personal experiences of the local Out of Hours service over this holiday period.

The first was on Boxing Day. My call was professionally answered, the urgency assessed, my treatment triaged, I was called back (within the promised timescale) by a medical professional and after confirming details checked if I needed a visit or that if I could visit a centre. With own transport available, I was driven to Doddington Hospital, in a short period of time I had seen a doctor, had a prescription and was home again all within two hours from making my call.

The second experience, for a different reason was on January 2. The treatment experience was the same – timely, professional and again all in under two hours.

Interestingly – and also good news was on both Sundays there were pharmacies open so my prescriptions could be dispensed.

I have also found out that my own doctor had been advised of both hospital visits the next working day.

However, I should declare an interest in that I am chair of the Doddington Patient Participation Group and I would stress that at no time did those I talked to when I was being treated know that I was involved with the Patient Group so they wouldn’t have given any form of priority or special treatment.

I am sure that we are all very aware of the need of an Out of Hours service to provide the maximum services for the best value and have memories of when the previous service failed so tragically.

I am sure that the NHS can, and are keen to learn, the current Out of Hours service is very different to the one previously offered.

In order for the service to meet the needs of its patients it is vital for the NHS to receive feedback. This is important and is the only way that the delivered patient experience can be the best, the most professional and, most importantly, the most relevant. The NHS has a special service – PALS – set up specifically to monitor and investigate Patient Experiences.

I was happy to have reported my experiences to PALS of a very different service and I encourage everyone to give PALS their feedback – be they good or bad.

My personal experiences – you couldn’t improve on them – in any way.

Well done the NHS.