"111 out-of hours care"
Posted by Parkinsons carer (as ),
I have used this service a couple of times recently, but will not bother again. In the days before 111 existed, Harmoni used to send a doctor, who would actually come and examine the patient, but, it seems, not any more.
The first time was about two months ago, over a weekend. My partner has Parkinson's, which gives him very high levels of anxiety - he often thinks he is dying. That weekend, as well as a rattling cough and constant nausea, he had had constipation overflow for 36 hours when I finally gave in to his demands to call a doctor. This was about 6. 30 on Sunday evening. After two phone calls from non-medically qualified people asking endless questions from a script they finally agreed to send a doctor. By 1 am no doctor had arrived, but I got a call from someone saying he was the After-Midnight Doctor - he had two patients to see before my partner and would be with us around 3 am. By now my partner was wearing an incontinence pad and was beginning to doze, so keeping him awake until three seemed crazy - I phoned his doctor first thing on Monday morning for a home visit, after a Sunday from hell.
On the second occasion I was the patient myself. This was in May and on a Monday, when a red rash had spread all over my body until I looked as if I had been scalded. Although my skin was burning, I was frozen and shivering and ached in every limb, and on Monday evening when my temperature had risen to 99. 6F I began to worry I had pneumonia. Again, when I phoned 111 I spoke to call centre staff with a script. They asked if I could attend an all-night surgery some way away, but I explained I was the sole carer for my partner who was immobile. Eventually they agreed to send a doctor.
The doctor, when he phoned around midnight, said I had one of two conditions I'd never heard of, both of which were dangerous, and told me to call an ambulance. (When I explained about my partner, he said: "Oh, the paramedics will sort that out" - a comment that amused them when they came. ) The paramedics were wonderful and reassured me that I didn't have pneumonia, despite my high temperature, but I felt ashamed to have called them out in vain.
But of course in any further crisis that is what I shall have to do from now on. I have learnt that there is no point in calling 111 and that the emergency services are the only care on offer out of surgery hours.