"Practice manager rudeness & lack of support"

About: Waltham Forest PCT Waltham Forest PCT / Emergency GP out of hours service

(as the patient),

I would like to express concern about the service I have received from two local surgeries. A few days ago I was experiencing acute back pain which meant that I could not sit or lie without acute, immobilising and painful spasms to my lower back. I have a chronic back condition for which there are physiological reasons. I am not registered in my home area after 2 failed attempts to do so; one said they were full and another rejected my application due to my only proof of address being redirected mail (I also had a passport and birth certificate but having only just moved did not have any letters with my new address).

My back problem flared up at the weekend and, though I thought it had improved, in fact, it recurred a few days later to the point where I was unable to sit or lie. Unfortunately, at this point, I had used up most of my medication left over from previous episodes. Due to being unable to sit I could not be driven to A&E or a walk in clinic.

I had stood for the entire day, until sitting at 17:00 for ten minutes, I was relieved to find that I could do so without any spasms and then I attempted to lie down but due to having previously sat (I presume), my back painfully and paralyzingly spasmed. This experience left me feeling scared and anxious about how I would sleep later and recover generally. In this state I called a local medical centre explaining the above and was told to call NHS Direct. I pointed out that this is not helpful to my situation as they are only able to provide telephone advice and I require a prescription (I had called NHS Direct on the weekend). When I asserted that I had a right to see a Dr in an emergency I was passed over to the Practice Manager who I felt had from the off, a harsh and rebuking tone which as I was feeling vulnerable and frustrated by this point was most unhelpful.

They reiterated the words of their colleague (only without the same degree of courtesy) i.e. as I am not a registered patient I cannot see a Dr in the surgery nor an out of hours Dr later should I need to. I explained that when in another county this weekend, the out of hours Dr could not have been more helpful and he was completely aware that I was not registered with him. The practice manager suggested I go to the polyclinic – although I had already pointed out that this is not possible for me. I stated that I know it is my right to see a Dr in an emergency (see quote below from NHS choices website). They informed me this is not the case. I asked for them for their name which they gave. She asked mine. I declined to give it to (given the way they had treated me, although I did not say this) and their words to me were, again in a harsh tone “oh go away then” and they subsequently hung up. Perhaps I am wrong in my understanding that I have a right to see a GP in an emergency but I am certain that their attitude and treatment of me, including hanging up in such a disrespectful manner, is not acceptable or in accordance with what individuals should be able to expect from the NHS.

I then tried a second medical centre and although I was no more successful in achieving any intervention, at least the staff were polite and demonstrated some concern and compassion. I was shocked to be informed that there is no out of hours Dr in Leyton however, and that individuals are expected to attend a walk in clinic. I questioned the helpfulness of this both in my situation and for others who may have difficulty getting there and was informed that I should call an ambulance. What a terrible waste of resources this would be! I only need some strong painkillers and for interactions with NHS staff to be professional and respectful.

I spoke to NHS direct after the difficult conversations with the local surgeries and was informed that there is an out of hours Dr whom I have a right to a telephone consultation with, although I am not registered. I have now spoken to him and although he could not come out to me he advised me on which over the counter medications I can combine to the greatest effect. This assistance and reassurance has been really important to me and in my opinion it's such as shame that the practice manager I spoke to could not offer even a fraction of his professionalism.

Afore mentioned quote from NHS choices:

“If you wish to see a GP and are visiting an area for more than 24 hours but less than three months, you can apply to register with a GP as a temporary resident. The application can be made using form GMS3.”

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››