Patients' fury over surgery

PUBLISHED: 13:11 22 February 2007 | UPDATED: 13:51 04 May 2010

FURIOUS residents have confronted health chiefs head-on demanding action to improve their doctors surgery. More than 200 people packed into Ely s Beet Club on Tuesday night to tackle health service directors about the poor service at the city s Octagon

FURIOUS residents have confronted health chiefs head-on demanding action to improve their doctors' surgery.

More than 200 people packed into Ely's Beet Club on Tuesday night to tackle health service directors about the "poor service" at the city's Octagon Surgery.

But they claim the meeting, called by the newly-formed Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, was a "whitewash" offering few solutions.

Now they are calling on South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice to back their fight for better health care.

"The way they handled the meeting was a disgrace," said patient, Michael Powell, 71, from Ely's Downham Road. "Feelings were running so high that there could have been a riot. This was a talking shop set up by the PCT. It was a total whitewash."

Patients are furious because they claim constantly changing locum doctors who are not up-to-date with their medical histories are making the situation unbearable at the surgery, based at the city's Princess of Wales Hospital.

Until last year, the Octagon was run by Sutton surgery. But a new pharmacy opening in the village took away some of its medicine dispensing business and doctors announced they could no longer afford to run the Octagon.

The surgery was transferred to the newly-formed PCT and shares a team of doctors with the hospital's Lantern Centre minor injuries unit.

But the PCT has admitted it has been unable to offer the required level of

service over the past six months.

Directors called the meeting to settle patients' concerns and discuss plans to launch a practice patient participation group.

It backfired, however, with patients claiming the meeting provided few answers to the way forward and no explanation as to how the problems arose in the first place. Beverley Owen, of St John's Road, Ely, who needs regular help for her five-year-old asthmatic son, Edward, claims the service has gone downhill since the surgery changed hands.

"We have had so much trouble with this surgery which used to be excellent," she said.

"There's not a problem getting an appointment but when you get to the doctors they don't know what you are talking about. They have no knowledge of patient history.

"I used to be able to phone the asthma nurse when I needed help with my son. Now they insist I make an appointment. They won't give me advice over the phone.

"I have begged our doctor in Sutton to take us back. I have been phoning around surgeries to see if I can find somewhere else."

Dr Jill Challener, PCT medical director, said: "The meeting was the first step in these plans, so we understand that some people attending had concerns and it is important that we have been made aware of these."

Matthew Smith, PCT assistant director of primary care said: "There have been significant changes in staffing at the practices over the past six months which have meant we have not been able to offer the level of service we would have wished to.

"Once again, we apologise for the inconvenience and concern this has caused and would like to reassure patients that progress has been made to improve this situation.

"Over recent weeks we have successfully appointed three permanent doctors who will provide continuity of care to patients while we are attempting to recruit to the remaining 1.5 GP permanent posts.

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