Former patient’s anger at Bonnyrigg medical practice

Kevin Macdonald outside Bonnyrigg Health Centre. Photo by Greg MacVean
Kevin Macdonald outside Bonnyrigg Health Centre. Photo by Greg MacVean

A Bonnyrigg man has expressed his shock at being struck off the patient list at his local surgery for, he claims, simply making a complaint.

Kevin MacDonald (49) wrote to Strathesk Medical Practice at Bonnyrigg Health Centre after a doctor refused to see him for a follow-up appointment, following a week in hospital with bowel problems, because he was “a little over five minutes late”.

A week after complaining he received notice that he had been struck off by the surgery, with whom he had ben a patient since he was an infant.

The surgery would not comment on the case but defended its patient list policy.

A machine operator in Dalkeith, Mr MacDonald originally suffered bowel and perforated diverticular disease, and peritonitis 12 years ago. In July he suffered further bowel problems and spent a week in the Western General.

He said: “It can’t be right to be struck off just for complaining. How many other people have they done this to?

“After being discharged from hospital I had a follow-up appointment with Dr Gardiner. As I was due to return to work that day I tried to re-arrange my appointment for a later time that day. The doctor refused saying ‘it’s important to attend your appointment’.

“So on leaving my work early to attend this appointment, taking two buses and having to use the toilet facilities in Dalkeith owing to my recent illness, I arrived late – by a little over five minutes.

“The receptionist said she would need to contact the doctor. I had barely sat down when I was called by the receptionist who said the doctor was refusing to see me.”

Disappointed at missing his appointment, worse was to follow for Mr MacDonald. He said: “Of course I was very angry at this, so on returning home I wrote a letter of complaint.

“A week later I received a letter from the Practitioners Service saying I had been struck off. The following day I received one from the surgery saying the same.

“I wasn’t abusive, threatening or swearing. I simply stated my anger at not being seen after losing a half day of work, and that I was late due to having to use toilet facilities because of my illness. “And that it was the same doctor that refused to re-arrange in the first place. Saying it was important I keep my appointment. Yet refused me for being a little late.

“This was the crux of my letter of complaint.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that patients cannot complain without being struck off.

“They know I was in hospital, they know I was seriously ill. But they have neglected their duty of care because of a complaint.”

After a week without a medical practice Mr MacDonald now has a new surgery and will soon get his follow-up appointment.

He said: “I have been allocated one now. Dalhousie, which is in the same building so very handy. It’s a huge weight of my mind.

“Although I just feel that I shouldn’t have been struck off in the first place.”

A spokesperson for Strathesk Medical Practice said: “We cannot make a public reply about an individual patient due to confidentiality and data protection laws.

“If a patient is aggressive and uses inappropriate or abusive language this is understandably upsetting and distressing for our staff. Our staff have the right to work in a safe environment and to be treated with respect.

“The relationship between a GP and a patient is vital to high quality care. There are occasions when the partnership decide that there has been a breakdown in the relationship between the GP practice and a patient. In these circumstances we would advise that the patient may be better supported by another local practice.

“We wish to reassure our patients that we welcome feedback both positive and negative, and have a robust complaints system in place.

“ A patient will never be removed from our list simply for complaining.

“Any decisions regarding removal from our list are considered extremely carefully and taken very seriously.

“As patient safety and good quality care are always our main objectives, we feel reassured that there are alternative local practices who can provide a high level of care.”