A ward councillor has made a complaint to NHS England and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman over a row about patient rights with Birchington Medical Centre.
Cllr Suzanne Brimm says the practice would only register her daughter Holly and four-month-old granddaughter Emelia if she was not named on the consent form, “in revenge” for a campaign she led in 2013 to get improvements at the surgery.
Holly, 22, and Emelia had been registered temporarily but Cllr Brimm says they had difficulties being taken on as permanent patients. Earlier this week doctors and staff at the centre held a meeting to discuss the case and agreed to take mum and baby on – without Cllr Brimm’s name on the consent form, which allows staff at the practice to talk about the patient’s medical conditions with her.
Furious Cllr Brimm said: “This is discrimination. The practice manager told me the doctors were feeling upset about the successful campaign I led to get improvements at the centre. The campaign was in the best interests of residents and I remained professional throughout. I was never rude or aggressive and there is no valid reason to refuse to communicate with me. What are they going to do if someone in my ward asks me to intervene on their behalf?”
Cllr Brimm attends a surgery in Minster but says her daughter wants to be able to use the centre in the village where she is now living and should have the right to put her mother on the consent form.
‘Breakdown of relations’
But Birchington practice manager Hannah Price said a “breakdown of relations” had occurred between Cllr Brimm and the practice due to the campaign in 2013 and the compromise to leave Cllr Brimm off the consent form had been put forward by her daughter. That proposal had been put to the clinical team, who accepted it and have registered her and Emelia.
She added: “We will investigate the complaint when it reaches us through the correct channels of NHS England and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. In the meantime we have accepted both patients to the practice.”
Cllr Brimm disputes this, saying the idea to leave her off of the consent form was first proposed by Ms Price and originally accepted by Holly who later changed her mind.
Under the NHS Constitution, any member of the public within the practice boundary can choose to register at any GP practice and then request a particular doctor. In general, the practice is not able to refuse an application for registration.
Exceptions can be made when patients have been violent towards staff. Refusal, or removal of a patient, can also be made when there has been an irretrievable breakdown of all or part of the patient-practice relationship, usually that between patient and doctor.
A spokesperson for NHS England South said: “Any patient who has concerns about the service they have received can contact their GP practice directly about this, or they can make a complaint to NHS England if they do not wish to raise their concerns directly with their GP practice.”
“Ms Brimm has made initial contact with our customer contact centre about her concerns and they will be in touch with her shortly about this.”
Cllr Brimm has also contacted the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. She said: “I am now going through these processes to make sure no-one else finds themselves in this situation.”
Rob Behrens, from PHSO, said: “People are reluctant to complain about public services even though they think it is the right thing to do.
“Those who do complain, often do so because they don’t want what happened to them or their loved one to happen to someone else.
“Complaints can make a difference by alerting public services to where potential problems are and should be welcomed, so that improvements can be made.”