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Patients are ‘turned away’ from GP surgery after doctors quit

Calls for NHS chiefs to act over concerns for future of Soho Square General Practice

16 March, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Soho Society chairman Tim Lord: ‘On several occasions all patients presenting at the practice have been turned away because there has been no clinician available to treat them’

TWO long-standing doctors at Soho’s main surgery have quit and patients are being “turned away” because there are no clinicians left to see them, according to the chairman of the Soho Society.

Tim Lord has sent a stinging complaint to NHS chiefs over months of chaos at the Soho Square General Practice.

Practice partner Dr Louis Brassey left in December and he was followed out the door by Dr Stephen Cheung following a dispute with private operators, Yorkshire-based Living Care.

Mr Lord, in an email to the Central London ­Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds the practice, said: “On several occasions all patients presenting at the practice have been turned away because there has been no clinician available to treat them.”

The surgery has traditionally been the main port of call for Chinese patients in Soho and Dr Cheung had been able to speak to them in their native tongue. One-third of the surgery’s 5,000 patients are Chinese patients and the practice was originally set up to serve the Chinatown community. But those patients are being asked to speak to an interpreter over the phone during clinical sessions. Mr Lord said Chinese patients were “very worried about what will happen”. Dr Cheung leaves at the end of March.

“When Dr Cheung is absent on leave or sick, Chinese speakers with little or no English are unable to communicate with receptionists or clinicians at the surgery and leave angry and without treatment,” said Mr Lord.

Living Care Medical Services, which took over the practice in August 2016, told patients by letter in September that it was “not financially viable” in its present form.

The does not affect Dr Christopher Bark’s GP practice, which is on the first floor of the same building, or a walk-in surgery on the ground floor.

The building, in a prestigious location on the corner of Soho Square and Frith Street, is owned by NHS Property.

The surgery is a former hospital that the Soho Society fought to remain in medical and community use in the 1990s.

It is organising a meeting and Central London Commissioning Group has been invited to attend along with Living Care.

In a statement, Mr Lord said: “Twenty years ago the Soho Society played a key role in establishing the Soho Centre for Health and Care and the society is of the view that the provision of medical care in Soho is an important part of maintaining the community.

“The society will continue to fight for the provision of effective GP care in Soho.”

Living Care Medical Services is part of the Living Care Group which provides private, corporate and National Health Service patient services.

In September, the company said: “Living Care looks forward to a positive and supportive relationship with the Patient Participation Group to grow the practice and create the conditions to make it stable and assure its longevity.”

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