DORSET HealthCare has admitted that its new Integrated Urgent Care Service suffered 'teething problems' during its first busy weekend.

Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group - which decides what services are required in the county - said last November that the new arrangements would 'make it easier for people to access urgent NHS care and advice when it is needed'.

However, complainants to the Echo claimed it was 'poorly planned and mismanaged' and had left 'many patients not getting access to trained clinicians or waiting many many hours for response to their health issues'.

A spokesman for Dorset HealthCare, which launched the service on Monday April 1, said: “Our new Integrated Urgent Care Service was officially launched last week, which will provide local people with quicker, easier access to the advice or care they need, and help reduce the numbers attending A&E departments or requiring hospital admission.

“Unfortunately, we had a few teething problems with the service over a busy first weekend, which resulted in some patients experiencing delays in accessing out-of-hours care. During this time, our clinicians worked tirelessly to monitor the patient queue and ensure nobody was left at risk while waiting to see or speak to a professional.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused, and we would like to reassure the public that plans are now in place to improve our response to patients.”

Announcing the new service last November, DCCG said that as well as providing more advice online and by phone through NHS 111; "The Integrated Urgent Care Service will unite other services already familiar to local residents, including the night nursing service and improved access to GPs, including out-of-hours care."

It said NHS 111 callers who need specific clinical support will be put through to a new Clinical Assessment Service. "A trained clinician will seek to address their problem there and then, or – if that is not possible – book the patient an appointment with a relevant health professional close to home."

"The Integrated Urgent Care Service will bring together local NHS providers to ensure a seamless, efficient service for patients, building on decisions taken during the CCG’s recent Clinical Services Review," it claimed.