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Independents' Day

Safety worry prompts third GP to quit centre

By Ian Cameron

A third GP is refusing to continue to work at a privately-run NHS walk-in centre in London because of concerns nurses there are handling cases beyond their competence.

Dr Abiola Balogun, a GP at the Canary Wharf walk-in centre, operated for the NHS by Atos Origin, has refused to sign a contract making her a permanent member of staff and says she will not go back.

Her exit follows that of Dr Anila Reddy (right), who quit last month as lead GP. In a letter to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, Dr Reddy argued the Government's rush to implement nurse-led walk-in centres was creating a 'dangerous relatively unregulated situation'.

Another GP, Dr Nadeem Bhatti, who worked at the nurse-led centre for two months, shared Dr Reddy's concerns and has also refused to take further shifts.

All three GPs have alleged patient safety is being put at risk because of procedures at the centre. They said they were

reduced to rubber-stamping nurses' decisions about patients, including children.

The GPs have all questioned the ethics of nurses questioning their prescribing decisions and carrying out quality audits of their work.

Atos Origin launched an

investigation after Dr Reddy's allegations. It referred Pulse's inquiries about the GPs' claims to the Department of Health.

A department spokeswoman said it had seen the results of the investigation and was satisfied patient safety was not being compromised.

She added: 'In addition, the department is satisfied the service provided meets requirements and that practitioners are operating in line with their respective professional code of practice and current policies.'

Dr Balogun told Pulse any nurse in the centre was allowed to see any patient as long as they judged themselves competent to do so. Yet they often needed GPs to sign scripts for them.

She said the stress of working at the centre had given her headaches and stomach pains.

'My job is about patient safety. There are lots of not very right things going on there and patients' lives will be put at risk. It just needs one wrong diagnosis,' Dr Balogun said.

'Doctors sometimes get it wrong despite years of training, but you can't compare their experience with that of a nurse.'

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