Harold Hill doctor hits out at closure of walk-in clinic

Dr Mark Feldman second right and his team at the Petersfield surgery

Dr Mark Feldman second right and his team at the Petersfield surgery - Credit: Archant

A GP is “angry” his “trailblazing” walk-in service has been stopped in favour of a new scheme that leads to patients queuing for appointments before 8am.

Dr Mark Feldman, of Petersfield Surgery in Petersfield Avenue, Harold Hill, said the weekend walk-in clinic he set up “never” led to waits like those seen at North Street Medical Centre in Romford.

The Recorder’s front page story last week revealed dozens of patients, some as old as 80, had been queuing for appointments before the practice opened because phone lines were so busy.

Both surgeries applied for funding through the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund late last year but the decision-making doctors at Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chose to back the new North Street urgent appointment service “because it opens seven days a week and slots can be booked by hospital doctors.”

Dr Feldman’s scheme was launched as a six-month pilot in 2013 to relieve the pressure on A&E at Queen’s Hospital but was later extended for a year.

He argued North Street was only two miles from Queen’s – half the distance of his surgery in the “relatively deprived” Harold Hill.

“We offered an excellent service,” he said. “Patients never had to queue, we had manpower for them to be seen quickly. I’m quite angry. We have happy sheets showing its success but no feedback was taken into account.

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“North Street is largely middle class and a lot of patients take private care – ours can’t do that.”

Petersfield took patients referred by NHS 111, Harold Wood Polyclinic and A+E.

“We were trailblazers,” said Dr Feldman. “It’s tough for GPs – we’re all trying to be inventive.

“Instead of being patted on the back for relieving pressure on A&E the powers that be have thought ‘we’ll have some of that’.”

Karen Thomas, Petersfield practice manager, has a petition signed by 1,000 people protesting the decision. “It took 18 months to build our scheme and every patient knew about it,” she said.