RESIDENTS of Staffordshire Moorlands are asked to ring the NHS 111 number if they require a doctor at night and weekends when their own GP is off call.
A presentation of the out of hours service, which is now run by Staffordshire Doctors Urgent Care, was given to members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's health and community overview and scrutiny panel last week by the service representatives.
Councillors were informed that the service now operates a peripatetic model of care at Leek Moorland Hospital minor injury unit which offers flexibility between appointment centre visits, home visit or telephone advice.
However councillor Pam Wood stated that a few months ago she and her husband spend four hours trying the get a doctor.
She said: "We tried to get a doctor to our home because my nagging back pain suddenly worsened and I could not stand. I had no use in my left leg and no hope of getting to the stairs.
"During the course of many phone calls to NHS direct we explained the situation countless times and still were told to visit the clinic by Britannia Stadium.
"They gave me about five appointment at Campbell Road in Stoke, but I could not move. I tried all night for a home visit but could not get one.
"What we should have done was dial 999 and say I was on the floor and my husband could not move me."
Kingsley councillor Josie Clowes said she had also got experience of the service.
"I was also forced to call the 111 number. After going through the questions and assessment I was told they would ring me back. However I received no call so I rang back again and asked if an appointment was being made at Leek Hospital.
"I was eventually told that an appointment had been made for 11.30pm. When we arrived the hospital was closed. I rang 111 again as I was in extreme pain, and this time I was told to go to Campbell Road in Stoke. I eventually saw at doctor at 1.15am who gave me medication and I was then fine. I should not have been sent to the wrong place in agony. It took six hours to see a doctor."
The out of hours clinical services manager, Helen Smith, said that when both these situations arose the 111 service was new.
She said: "Things are now embedded and better. Out of hours is for urgent care. It is not possible to see everyone when they would like. We have to prioritise or we would have an unsafe service. If someone has a minor cough they could see their doctor the next day, but if something is more urgent then people do need to see a doctor.
"When you call 111 you are asked the same questions as calling the ambulance service. A call adviser will determine if you need to see a doctor, book an appointment or if you need a home visit. If a ambulance is required 111 sends one out without delay.
"In Leek the uptake in the week is small and instead of doctors doing nothing they are on home visits. If this happens people could have to wait a while until the doctor returns, or people could be given an appointment at Stoke."
Operational manger, Diana Holdcroft, who was also present at the meeting, said she would take up the case of Mrs Wood as this is not the treatment the service aims for.