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GPs go forth

Norfolk patient threatens to sue GP after facing long wait for ear wax removal

A patient in Norfolk has threatened to sue his GP after being told he might have to wait up to 10 weeks to get his ear wax removed.

Retired county councillor Graham Jones from Antingham, Norfolk, said he would consider taking legal action against Birchwood Medical Practice if he got involved in 'some sort of an accident because of his lack of hearing'. 

The 75-year-old man told The Eastern Daily Express that he has been struggling to hear for the past two decades and has never been faced with such a long waiting list. 

He said: 'Normally you ring up and make an appointment to see the nurse and they put a bit of oil in your ear and extract the wax. [They said] you have to go on waiting list now and I was told there was about 300 people on it.'

'It's very frustrating. I wear hearing aids anyway and I haven't got profound deafness, but I can't hear anything out of my left ear and my right isn't great. Why should I have to be deaf?

He continued: 'If, as a result of my not being able to hear properly, I get involved in some sort of accident because of my lack of hearing, I would seriously consider suing them. I wouldn't put it past me.'

Birchwood Surgery and North Norfolk CCG said in a joint statement that there is no formal waiting list for this service.

The statement said: 'There is no formal waiting list introduced for ear wax removal. It is simply the case that patients are treated for routine medical problems as soon as an appointment becomes available. We believe most people are aware that there is sometimes a short wait for NHS treatment if it is not an emergency and unless someone has an over-riding medical need, it is usual for people to be seen in turn.'

It added: 'Birchwood Medical Practice has written to Mr Jones assuring him they look forward to welcoming him at the surgery as soon as possible. Ear irrigation is not part of general practice’s core contracted NHS work, however like a number of surgeries, Birchwood chooses to offer the service to its patients under a separate contract agreement.'

Data released by NHS Digital in 2017 showed that written complaints increased by 9.7% compared to the year before, with GP leaders attributing the increase in part to GPs 'buckling under the pressures of a huge increase in patient numbers but a shortage of doctors to care for them'.

Last year, GP burnout expert Professor Clare Gerada called for more support for doctors facing a patient complaint, claiming ‘complaints kill doctors’.

Readers' comments (8)

  • many surgeries have stopped providing the service as not GMS work and many patients have to pay for it privately now. ear wax removal is far safer using microsuction with a microscope so why anyone would want a blind wax removal with the risk of infection and perforation is crazy. As for complaining it would be far easier if we removed the 'be nice to people' stranglehold of GMC good doctor guidelines and actually be allowed to be frank and honest with our patients even if it upsets them. to save some ones life sometimes the answer should be no. As one of my now long retired consultants used to say to patients - if you don't like the wait, stop misbehaving or f**k off out of my department. worked every time.

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  • I suspect in a recent (or perhaps very urgent upcoming review) the medical practice in question might stop offering that service as it is not part of the core contract. (as per vadar above).

    The notice of withdrawing that service should specifically thank this patient by name, for starting the process of reviewing ear wax treatment.

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  • NFN
    (pick appropriate abbreviation for your locality).

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  • He could do it himself with some olive oil and a bit of patience.... does he read the Daily Mail by any chance?

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  • Cobblers

    Birchwood Medical Practice learn your lesson. No good deed goes unpunished.

    The all high panjandrum, in this case a retired councillor, has taken it upon himself to slate and threaten you for s service you need not provide.

    A quick note in the practice newsletter that due to a complaint by said ex Councillor this service would be withdrawn.

    And he would be Mr Popular in the locality. I, for one might flick my ear wax over his hedge.

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  • Surely now we are being told that earwax syringing is bad for ears and should no longer be started, we should all be stopping it at once before we get sued for actually doing it to someone who’s not satisfied with the outcome.Maybe , like dental advice,the medical defence organisations could come up with a supportive declaration that they would support gps deciding to stop the service and only insure ent specialist ,so we can inform our patients that we cannot do stuff we are not insured for (let alone paid for)

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  • please-delete-this-fucking-profile-i-cant-delete-it-in-my-account-settings

    when i first qualified you wouldn't have got this kind of thing from a 75 year old, but back then they were old enough to remember a time before the NHS existed and many had been adults during the war, sadly they have mostly passed away and today's 70 year old has had the NHS their entire adult life, and fully expects to be looked after and served by the state as a matter of right. there's a whole cohort of these kind of people getting elderly and infirm in a town near you and frankly i don't relish looking after their health - i miss their parents.

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  • A case for trans-urethral cerumen extraction.

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