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Out Of Hours Doctors Insist They Did Not Delay Ambulances

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7:01am 23rd April 2013

Cornwall's out of hours doctors deny they delayed ambulances to help hit targets.

Serco has been in front of a powerful group of MPs - after admitting some figures were fiddled.

The people who did it have left the company but are banned from talking about it.

Bosses were questioned about a string of problems after it took over the service in 2006.

They admitted that, last year, they were having trouble filling shifts and are still missing three out of thirteen national targets.

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge clashed with the private company's representatives over a memo which it is claimed told staff how to deal with people who might need an ambulance.

If staff were waiting for advice from medics they could click to an earlier computer screen, pausing a countdown measuring the key performance indicator.

Mrs Hodge said: "Somebody put out an instruction to deliberately not get people an ambulance when they need it, simply to meet your KPI. It's outrageous."

Doctor Louis Warren insisted: "They were acting in the best interests ... of patients."

Mrs Hodge interrupted: "What, delaying an ambulance is in the best interest of patients?"

Doctor Warren continued: "I must be completely clear on this. We were not delaying the ambulance..."

Mrs Hodge shot back: "You were - you were stopping the clock."

Doctor Warren insisted: "No - I want to be very clear we get this right factually. There was no delay to an ambulance."

But the company conceded that the original memo was "regrettable" and insisted that the service was getting better.

7:01am 23rd April 2013

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