Letter: Oxygen problem caused by the meddlesome DoH

Dear Editor

There is no doubt that the new system of private providers supplying oxygen to seriously ill people at home broke down within days, leaving patients without life-saving deliveries of oxygen.

The threat of oxygen shortage is as serious as it was six weeks ago. There has been no information from either the DoH or Air Products as to when a resolution might be anticipated.

GPs therefore urgently require a disaster recovery plan to be agreed and disseminated as soon as possible, and we are still no wiser of when Air Products will be able to fulfil their contractual obligations.

The financial consequences for GPs as a result of duplicated HOOF forms are that extra emergency supplies are charged at nine times the usual rate (despite Air Products not delivering within four hours) and overtime put in by staff in arranging contingencies.

The DoH is blaming the shortage of oxygen to a rush of orders from GPs and healthcare professionals. This is untrue. The old system saw GPs order home oxygen for patients through local pharmacists, who would then procure oxygen from suppliers. This has worked successfully for many years.

GPs are now completing a form for each of their patients which then has to be duplicated to send to departments within the NHS. The main form has to be faxed to Air Products.

It was not long ago that practices were encouraged to go paperless, but how can we when we are bombarded with additional forms to complete?

The DoH's decision to contract out the service to private providers has brought unforeseen chaos to the system. This is what happens when bureaucrats in Richmond House 'fix' something that wasn't broken.

Dr Kailash Chand, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire.

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