Complaints against locum and out-of-hours care offered by doctors’ surgeries have nearly doubled over a two year period. The figures have been released by The Medical Defence Union, as it reported that the number of complaints rose from 337 to 517 over the 2007-2008 timeframe. Of these complaints, 73 resulted in claims for compensation, a rise from 41 claims two years before. These figures highlight the alleged problem with locum and out-of-hours care in the UK. Patients allege that locums have failed to spot major medical conditions such as meningitis or a heart attack on several occasions.
These figures are released at the same time as the inquest in to Dr Daniel Ubani. Dr Ubani worked as a weekend GP locum, flying in from Germany for a weekend of work. On February 16th 2008, the first day of his employment , he delivered a lethal dose of diamorphine – over 10 times the recommended dose – to a Mr Gray of Cambridgeshire. It was stated at the inquest that at the time Dr Ubani was hired, 6% of out-of-hours GP’s were of “European origin” provided by locum agencies. That figure has now been cut to 3% the inquest stated. It also was assured that the General Medical Council ran checks on the competency of foreign locum doctors coming to the UK to work. These checks are designed to improve the quality of care and stem the rise in claims for compensation. Dr Ubani pleaded guilty to medical negligence.