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"Not for single women"

About: Barlow Medical Centre

I have been with the practice for a little under a year - the two times I have had to deal with them previously I have been impressed by how friendly they were. However, then I had to call about emergency contraception. The instant those two words came out of my mouth the receptionist's tone of voice changed: I could feel the judement through the phone as a tangible thing. It made me feel utterly terrible: belittled, scorned. It was clear she felt I was wasting her time. A condom broke, it happens. What did she want to do? Wait a month to see what happened?

The doctor was a bit better, but she gave me hassle for not being on the pill - although, as would be in my medical file, every contraceptive pill I have tried gave me horrendous side effects. We confirmed three times the prescription would be sent to the pharmacy next door. I walked 35mins from home: it was not there. I walked 45 mins in the oposite direction to the pharmacy where it had actually been sent: they had no stock. This should have been checked: a punishment for the harlot wasting their time? All this time I was getting hassled by the man I had started seeing, who was now showing his true colours. I burst into tears in the middle of the pharmacy. I had to go to two further pharmacies before filling my prescription. The counter staff were lovely, but I was told off by the pharmacist (the first man in this story) for not coming in and purchasing the pill privately. Since when can you not go to your doctor with a medical issue?

It was an utterly traumatising morning. It meant that instead of the 11 hours post sex I would have had the pill, it was about 12 and three quarter hours. This after the doctor had repeated at length about how important it was to take it within 12 hours. I spent the next several hours on my bed crying. As an adult woman taking responsability for my own body and preventing an unwanted pregancy, I was made to feel like I was not worth the services offered by the NHS; like I shouldn't be darkening the doors of a respectable surgery. I'd had to have emergency contraception about 12 years ago, after another condom break. My doctors' surgery then - in Edinburgh, unfortunately - were fantastic: supportive, friendly, providing a seemless service to ensure everything was handled with speed, support, and care. And 12 years ago it was a male GP, too.

I do not feel at all comfortable going back to Barlow Medical again at the moment, I feel I will have to look into alternatives. I seriously dread to think how they treat women further along in an unplanned pregnancy, or patients who are sex workers. It is 2021: that was not clear from the reception I got. I am a confident woman in my 30s, so at least my tears turned to anger: a frighted 16 year old on their own would have been destroyed by that treatment. logo


Response from Barlow Medical Centre 2 months ago
Barlow Medical Centre
Submitted on 27/05/2021 at 13:13
Published on at 16:29

Dear Patient,

We are sorry to hear that you received a bad experience whilst accessing the services at Barlow Medical Centre. Whilst it is difficult for us to investigate your complaint from a personal point of view, we have investigated the account of events you mentioned in your comments.

We are not able to check your medical records, therefore we are unable to look at your consultation, but we can confirm that the concerns you raise have been discussed with the GP’s in the surgery.

The reception team hold regular meetings and this issue will be discussed during our next scheduled meeting.

We apologise you were sent to the wrong chemist to collect your medication. We receive over 300 prescriptions per day, some with multiple items, and it would be impossible to check that every item prescribed was in stock with the chemist.

We are not able to comment on your pharmacy experience. We apologise that you were not given the information by the surgery that you could walk into a pharmacy and ask for the morning after pill.

We would like to sincerely apologise if you felt belittled, scorned, or felt you were wasting the receptionist’s time. We are extremely sorry that you have been upset by your experience.

Everyone at Barlow Medical Centre tries extremely hard to provide a high level of care and it is disappointing when this does not happen. We would like to reassure you that as a Practice we will learn from your experience, and necessary steps have and will be taken to try and prevent this from happening in the future.


Carol Harrison

Assistant Practice Manager

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