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Letter to Editor: Conservative candidate for Sumners on Barbara Castle Health Centre

General / Sun 24th Apr 2022 am30 09:45am

Sir,

I READ with interest the story about Barbara Castle HC and the uninformed comments by the Labour Party Candidate that you also published.

One of the major problems that patients of the Barbara Castle HC have had is the lack of communication about what has been happening. I must acknowledge that this is not the fault of the hard working staff at Barbara Castle who, unfairly, seem to be getting the blame, the fault lies with the management of the new combined surgeries based at Addison House.

The lack of communication during the merger has been at best very poor and at the worst non existent. Is it that hard to take the list of patients you have registered at BCHC and write to them?

During the many conversations I have had with constituents who have contacted me over the last couple of years, the majority, as well as discussing the issue they originally contacted me about, also tell me about the problems they have contacting their surgery, especially as the staff at Barbara Castle (I am informed) cannot answer their phones because all calls are rerouted to Addison House.

The Sumners part of my ward, where Barbara Castle HC is has a lot of older residents We have 2 warden controlled sheltered accommodation units in the ward and of course there is another unit in Katherines where most of those residents use BCHC as well.

One of the biggest issues that I hear about is that a lot of our older residents do not use the internet and don’t have smart phones so the claims by health centre management that patients can easily access doctors online or using the NHS App just doesn’t work for the most vulnerable in our society and the claims made by the management just goes to show that they are more interested in the balance book than the care of their patients. 

This is a subject that I was able to raise with the Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid when he visited Harlow on the 14th of April. 

I was able to press him about giving the NHS decision making back to clinician’s rather than letting accountants decide policy. 

Something that Tony Blair brought into the NHS with the introduction of National Health Service (Private Finance) Act 1997, rushed through without any safeguards by Blair’s New Labour government in July of that year.

Mr Javid assured me that as part of the ongoing NHS review of health and social care leadership that is one of the questions that is being asked. 

There are a number of problems with the current doctor services in this town two of the biggest are the long wait for phones to be answered and even being cut off after sitting in a queue for ages. How is it that companies across the UK are able to answer and process calls within a prescribed time frame, usually a matter of minutes when one of the biggest organisations in this country cant answer the phone within an hour?

The other is the ability to actually have, as standard, face to face consultations with your GP. 

Some people may prefer the online services but many want the human contact which apart from anything else gives the GP the chance to look and listen to their patient so they can spot any problems before they get out of hand, not something you can do on a phone. The only plus on this new and worrying development is that phone and internet are cheaper and make the accountants happy and they just ignore the cases where serious illness has caused a patients harm or even early death, we have already seen news reports alleging that these scenarios have already started to happen!

Patients are real people not numbers on a spreadsheet and its about time our NHS management were reminded of that.

Yours Sincerely

Councillor Nick Churchill

Ward Councillor and Candidate for Sumners and Kingsmoor Ward

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5 Comments for Letter to Editor: Conservative candidate for Sumners on Barbara Castle Health Centre:

Geraldine
2022-04-24 11:18:47

It was a BIG mistake to merge these two practices. I had got to know the staff at BCHC, they were friendly and very helpful. You can NEVER get ot speak to them. I am sure the Addison House staff are fine but as you age you like continuity, we haven't got it.

Alan Leverett
2022-04-24 13:32:52

I agree with Councillor Nick Churchill regarding the lack of consultation with regard to the medical practice merger and with the fact that many patients would not be able to express their concerns or views online. Its a pity this criticism is not taken onboard by Harlow Council in the way they communicate with the residents. You only have to look back to the last six months they had eight public consultations exercises with just 185 responses. Something wrong with the way they communicate? Alan Leverett Harlow Alliance Party Candidate Sumners and Kingsmoor Ward

Graham Butcher
2022-04-24 13:47:46

The ( lack of) treatment and communication I have had since the merger Is distressing. I have had problems since my cancer treatment. The consultant I have had since had been great. The ongoing problems with other departments and tests I have had is disconcerting to say the least. When somebody phones me with a result I an told it is normal or what do I expect at my age. or I have to chase people who never get back to me or arrange for me to attend a specialist clinic. I have now given up and wait for the time I have to go to A and E. or die.

Aiden O'Dell
2022-04-24 14:33:16

The condescending remarks of the incumbent cllr, is sadly of no surprise. Interestingly the only person uninformed is Cllr Churchill. I have been actively engaged with Addison House for several months and even questioned the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group before the merger. The main purpose of my recent engagements via several meetings with the management of Addison House has been to confront the issues of: 1. Lack of communication 2. Access to the surgery 1. Lack of communication. It was through my meetings with Addison House that the press release published earlier this week was created. I have worked with Addison House who are now also writing to every patient informing them of the changes and on surgery accessibility. 2. Access to the surgery Whilst Cllr Churchill is correct that a large number of patients do not have the ability or technology to be able to use the apps, advertising the use of them is necessary. If patients who have the ability to use the apps, then it frees the phone lines for those that cannot. My question to Cllr Churchill is: if he knew there were issues, as an elected representative of S&K and or BCHC patients, why has he not engaged with the management himself, like I have? Shouting and moaning on the sidelines does nothing. Only by working with the practice management can change be created. Aiden O'Dell Labour candidate for Sumners and Kingsmoor

peter henegan
2022-04-24 14:53:40

Whilst I am not a patient of the practices mentioned so have not experienced the issues involved (My GP surgery, Sydenham House, answers calls very quickly) I am amused that Cllr Churchill is actually blaming the problem on Tony Blair's govt of 1997. We have had a tory govt, and a tory MP, for 12 years. How comes, if the situation really is so bad, that nothing has been done in those 12 years to put things right? Or if the problems have happened out of recent changes, why were the changes, presumably, approved

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