PATIENTS waiting to access out-of-hours GP services at the troubled Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were sent to the other side of Glasgow due to a staffing shortage.
The service, which provides urgent primary care when GP surgeries are closed, shut down on Thursday night with patients sent more than three miles to Gartnavel General Hospital in the city’s West End.
One patient who was turned away and then made the journey to Gartnavel was later forced to return to the £842m facility for further specialist treatment. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board said the problem was caused by a lack of GPs willing to work the shifts.
The latest problems at the flagship super hospital comes in the wake of the deaths of two patients including a 10-year-old boy who contracted a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings.
A patient, who did not want to be named, said: “The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital was billed as something which was going to improve patient experience and cut waiting times.
“Ever since it opened it has been one thing after another. But when basic things like the out-of-hours service is affected so dramatically, you have to think something isn’t right with the management side.”
Glasgow MSP Annie Wells previously submitted a Freedom of Information request which revealed that a shortage of GPs closed the service 65 times over two years.
Across the health board area, out-of-hours services were closed more than 250 times during the last two years due to staff shortages.
She said: “Hospitals across our country’s largest health board are now clearly in the grip of a crisis when it comes to out-of-hours care.
“The fact that out-of-hours doctors were unavailable entirely at the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is extremely concerning.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board said: “There are times when we have difficulty in filling every shift across the eight centres due to a lack of GPs willing to work the shifts.
“This challenge is not an issue unique to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
“We are reviewing how best to deliver a sustainable GP out-of-hours services across the board area. The review is ongoing.
“We would remind any patient not to attend a GP out-of-hours service without first calling NHS 24 who will direct them to the most appropriate health care service for their needs.”