A WOMAN who was failed to be seen by two medical centres says Witham’s healthcare system “discriminates against working families”.
Teacher Kate Onions has added to the growing clamour for a new healthcare centre in the town after being told her GP surgery could not offer an on-day appointment before the nearest walk-in centre discouraged her from attending.
Mrs Onions, of Braintree Road, Witham, called Douglas Grove Surgery last Friday after suffering from a chest and sinus infection for a fortnight.
With the Springfield Walk-in Centre closing earlier this year, she contacted the Colchester walk-in centre, but was discouraged from turning up as it was so busy.
Mrs Onions said general medical provision for working people in Witham was “inadequate” and under increasing pressure.
She said: “The closure of the Springfield Walk in Centre and the reduction in access to GP urgent care means people in the area are not getting the medical attention they need.
“Asaworking person, I cannot take a day off just in case I am able to get an appointment to see a doctor about my sinus and chest infection, especially as 50 per cent of the time, the appointments for that day have all gone by the time I get through to the surgery.”
Mrs Onions said she faced a dilemma – take the day off and force her employer to hire a supply teacher, or go to A&E about a non life-threatening condition.
She was backed by town leaders, who said Witham’s GP practices were creaking under a growing population.
Witham MP Priti Patel said: “I know how frustrating it is for residents to book an appointment and demand during the winter period is particularly high.
“I have raised with NHS England the current problems my constituents are having getting appointments and am pressing them to address this situation.”
Town mayor Bill Rose said: “All the surgeries are struggling on an appointment basis.
“Fern House shut its books and are not taking any more patients but Douglas Grove hasn’t done that yet.”
He added: “There’s land available at the Maltings for a medical practice but we can’t get anyone to build it.
“The CCG say they are aware of the problem but there are 750 houses being built.”
In a statement, Douglas Grove said: “On Friday of last week, we had to rearrange our appointment schedule at short notice because of sickness.
“This meant there were less appointments available, and we were only able to see emergency and urgent patients on that day.
“We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”