Harborough council leader demands answers as thousands of patients battle to get a doctor’s appointment

Cllr King is acting as many villagers say they are at the end of their tether as problems started before the Covid pandemic in March 2020

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th May 2022, 10:19 am
Kibworth Medical Centre

Fuming Harborough District Council leader Phil King is demanding urgent answers as thousands of patients have to battle to get an appointment at his local village surgery.

Cllr King is hitting the warpath amid rising public anger over the long-running state of affairs at Kibworth Medical Centre on Smeeton Road, Kibworth Beauchamp.

The primary health care outlet is part of the South Leicestershire Medical Group – which also operates four other medical centres in Harborough district.

Kibworth Medical Centre

Cllr King is acting as many villagers say they are at the end of their tether as problems started before the Covid pandemic in March 2020.

Regional health chiefs have admitted that they share concerns over the performance of South Leicestershire Medical Practice – and are now working to support them as they take urgent action.

Cllr King, who lives in Kibworth and is a patient at the practice himself, told the Harborough Mail: “This situation is simply not good enough – and it’s not been good enough for a long time now.

“I am a patient at this medical centre as are my family.

“We don’t have a choice, unfortunately, none of us have an alternative.

“And we have all had trouble fixing up appointments at this practice in Kibworth over quite a period of time as have a lot of other people in this area,” declared the Conservative Harborough council boss.

“We have a lot of questions about how this practice and the group operating it are run and we need some very urgent answers.

“I’ve tried to get in touch with the practice myself to talk to them directly about this over the years and got absolutely nowhere.

“The whole situation is extremely frustrating and very concerning to say the least.”

Cllr King has now written to Andy Williams, the joint chief executive of the three local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, calling for action.

He has told Mr Williams: “Yet again I feel I need to make you aware of the very large volume of negative comments on the Facebook site of the KSIE, (Kibworth and Smeeton Information Exchange), which has several thousand residents signed up to it, about the accessibility to medical appointments at this practice.

“My previous attempt to get engagement from the practice directly has not been responded to.

“I attach below a screen shot of the post today with 76 comments - mainly negative which inevitably will have been read by hundreds of patients in the local community including myself,” wrote Cllr King.

“Clearly I have no detailed information as to what the issues are - but access to appointments has been a long standing issue, even prior to the pandemic.

“The SLMP (South Leicestershire Medical Practice) approach seems to be stay silent in the hope that this will go away.

“Sorry I don't think it will and I am now calling on you and your team to intervene if you haven't already in order to provide stakeholders, as well as patients, the confidence that they need.”

Picking up the story with the Mail, Cllr King added: “This is a very serious issue – and it affects thousands of people from the very young to the very old in and around Kibworth.

“We are not talking about one or two comments and complaints here.

“There must be 100 or so comments about this practice on our local community Facebook page now – and most of them are critical.

“A lot of people here are very unhappy with the practice in Kibworth – and this group operates major medical centres elsewhere in Harborough as well.

“This is very worrying on so many levels – and these practices are all funded by us the taxpayers.

“So we do want to know what’s going on.

“And we do want to find out why it is so hard to get a medical appointment at the surgery in Kibworth.

“This could well be having a significant impact on people’s health as well as forcing patients to call 111 instead or go to their local hospitals in Leicester or Kettering or where ever,” said Cllr King.

“So the whole thing has a huge knock-on effect right down the health care line.

“South Leicestershire Medical Practice’s radio silence is not right or acceptable either, just refusing to engage with us the public.

“So I am looking forward to getting some answers quickly from our CCGs as to what is going on here and what if any action is to be taken to start to put this right.”

It took us almost 30 minutes hanging on the phone to finally get through to Kibworth Medical Centre to ask for their side of this story.

But it took only moments for us to be told by a receptionist that their management did not talk to the local media as she referred us to the local CCGs for a comment.

Andy Williams, chief executive of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland CCGs, admitted to the Mail: “We are concerned about the difficulties that patients of South Leicestershire Medical Practice are experiencing and I have personally responded to Councillor King regarding this matter.

“We are aware that the GP practice has experienced some issues and we are working closely with the practice team to support them, review the concerns and agree what action needs to be taken to make improvements for their patients.”