A GP practice says its staff are ‘very upset’ after finding themselves in the midst of a media storm following claims they removed a patient from their practice list for posting an ‘offensive tweet’.
Staff at the Stanwell Surgery in Penarth, Wales, spoke to Pulse after a patient spoke to national newspapers complaining that he was unfairly deregistered without any warning.
Mr Mat Cochrane said he was de-listed after he posted a message on social networking website Twitter describing the practice staff as ‘incompetent tw**s’.
But the practice says they have a ‘zero tolerance’ to abusive behaviour’ and would do ‘everything possible’ to protect staff, patients and visitors from unacceptable behaviour.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Cochrane revealed a picture of the letter he received from the practice, which said he would be de-listed from the practice based on the offensive tweet, effective within just eight days.
— Mat (@mat711) March 12, 2013
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Cochrane said he had initially posted the message after a heated telephone call with practice reception staff who told him he would have to wait three weeks to see a doctor. When he asked to speak to management to make a complaint, he was told they were busy and he should write to them instead.
But, speaking to Pulse, Stanwell Surgery practice manager Siân Pugh said no patient has to wait for three weeks for an appointment at the surgery and that staff members at the surgery ‘are very upset’ as a result of the allegations in the national media.
She declined to make any further comments on the specific instance due to patient confidentiality, but referred to a statement posted on the practice website that says: ‘The practice is following up options for a new telephone system which will include recording all calls made to and from the surgery.
‘The practice re-affirms its commitment to do everything possible to protect staff, patients and visitors from unacceptable behaviour and their zero tolerance of any incident that causes hurt, alarm, damage or distress.’
Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, medicolegal adviser at the Medical Protection Society, said she could not comment on this case, but that a patient should only be immediately removed from a practice list without their agreement in ‘extreme circumstances’.
She advised: ‘It would be expected that the practice would normally only seek to remove a patient from the list if an official warning had been given within the previous 12 months and behaviour or circumstance which led to that warning had been repeated.’
‘A patient is able to express their dissatisfaction about a practice and that may be using a public forum, however if a practice became aware of it they should invite the patient to discuss their concerns and to try to facilitate a resolution as objectively as possible.’