Christmas Eve panic caused by NHS letter

Glemsford Surgery ANL-151229-154833009
Glemsford Surgery ANL-151229-154833009

A community was left in panic the day before Christmas after a confusing letter warned of prescription changes in the village.

Glemsford residents were sent a letter by NHS England that was taken by many as a warning they would no longer be able to pick up their prescriptions from the village doctor’s surgery in Lion Road.

Some even set up new prescriptions in Long Melford.

“I’m sure it spoilt Christmas for many and I feel very angry about the way it was written,” said Pauline Currie, from Hunts Hill, Glemsford.

“On further investigation, what it should have explained, but didn’t, is that Glemsford now has a separate pharmacy operating within the same premises.

“This operates in a different way to the dispensary they had previously, and if you have a prescription from your Glemsford GP, you can opt to have it dispensed at Glemsford or any pharmacy of your choosing, it’s just a simple matter of contacting Glemsford Surgery to opt in or out.”

Another of those affected was Pete Coote, who is recovering from cancer.

“Like most people in the village I got the letter and thought it was mad,” he said.“It seemed to be saying I lived too close to the surgery to take advantage of the dispensary there.

“I’m on certain medication as I’m recovering from prostate cancer. It’s quite handy having the place in walking distance.

“I still can’t understand reading that letter who it was supposed to benefit.

“I’m delighted it was just a badly written letter but it seems totally ridiculous.”

Mr Coote was just one of a number of residents to contact South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge after hearing the news, others contacting local councillors.

The village surgery, unaware of the letter, was “inundated” was patients phoning and waiting for it to open on Christmas Eve and on subsequent days, wondering how they would be able to get their prescriptions from now on.

“People are concerned about the letter, it’s just ridiculous,” said Mrs Currie.

“When I read it, it seemed to make no sense at all. They don’t actually point out what they are trying to say.

“The elderly people in Glemsford are the concern. They still might not know

“It’s clearly upsetting people as the surgery was inundated. I was thinking that we needed to get a campaign going.”

Mrs Currie, who provides an email service notifying residents about local events and issues, said she had been contacted by several unhappy members of the community.

After finding out about the misunderstanding from Babergh district councillor Steve Plumb, she emailed as many residents as possible and put a post on Facebook.

The 59-year-old criticised the badly worded letter for being a waste of taxpayers’ money, asking for an apology alongside a proper explanation of the changes.

She said this time it should not be at the expense of the health service, but instead the individuals involved.

After sending a letter of complaint to NHS England Mrs Currie was told she would receive a response by January 20.

She called the delay “disappointing”, saying there were likely to be patients in the village still needing reassurance about the letter.