Organisation we investigated: Borstal Village Surgery
Date investigation closed: 28 May 2021
Mr B complained about the decision made by Borstal Village Surgery (the Practice) to remove him and his family from their patient list.
Mr B said they did this with no warning or justification, causing him and his family immense mental distress, frustration and inconvenience. This is particularly acute as his wife had recently been diagnosed with a rare and serious illness.
Mr B and his family had been patients of the Practice for many years. The family had always lived outside the catchment area and the Practice was aware of this. They had continued to allow the family to remain on their surgery’s list until 17 July 2018. They then wrote to Mr B to ask if he could register elsewhere. Mr B says he never received this letter.
On 21 September 2018, the Practice called Mr B to ask if he had managed to register elsewhere yet. As a result of this unexpected contact, Mr B visited the Practice and tried to speak with the senior GP about the request. He was denied access to the senior GP by reception staff.
Later that day, the Practice sent a letter to Mr B. It said he and his family would be removed from the patient list from 28 September 2018. It explained that this was due to his alleged behaviour, not because the family lived outside of the catchment area.
What we found
The Practice removed Mr B and his family from their register immediately and without warning.
In doing this, we found that the Practice did not act in line with the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2015.
We acknowledged that NHS staff should not have to tolerate unreasonable behaviour but found that the Practice had not followed the correct process. They did not have grounds under the regulations to move to immediate removal from the list.
The Practice’s actions left Mr B and his family without access to primary healthcare. Mr B’s wife had recently been diagnosed with a serious and rare condition and this decision exacerbated their distress at an already difficult time.
Putting it right
We recommended that the Practice should do the following within two months of the final report:
- write to Mr B to acknowledge that immediate removal was not in line with NHS regulations
- prepare an action plan with timescales, setting out what steps it will take to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again
- take action to review its policy to make sure it is wholly consistent with the regulations
- pay Mr B £250 in recognition of the distress caused by removing the family from the list without following the correct procedure.
The Practice has complied with some of our recommendations. However, they have refused to make the financial payment despite contact from senior managers at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and Mr B’s MP.
We have decided to publish this case summary and name Borstal Village Surgery to highlight that the Practice has refused to comply with the financial recommendation. It is unusual for an NHS organisation to refuse to comply and sadly this has left Mr B and his family with an unremedied injustice.