An elderly woman was ordered to find a new GP because the “carbon footprint” of her two-mile round trips to the surgery where she had been treated for 30 years was too large. Avril Mulcahy, 83, was told to address the “green travelling issues” over her journeys from her home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, to the West Road Surgery. The surgery wrote to Mrs Mulcahy, telling her to register with a new GP within 28 days.
The letter said: “Our greatest concern is for your health and convenience but also taking into consideration green travelling issues. Re: Carbon footprints and winter weather conditions, we feel it would be advisable for patients to register at surgeries nearer to where they live. We would be very grateful if you could make the necessary arrangements to re-register at another practice.” Mrs Mulcahy, a grandmother, believes the decision was made because she complained about a doctor.
“When I read through the letter, I found it absolutely ridiculous they were saying the reason was to decrease their carbon footprint,” she said. “I have been a patient at the practice for 30 years now, and there has never been any problem. To be treated like this, just because I live too far away or for what I feel is a reaction to my complaint, is disgraceful. It feels like they are just coming up with an excuse to get rid of me.” Mrs Mulcahy said she was anxious and worried at having to try to find a new GP. “If they really cared, they could have found me a new practice instead of just basically saying do it yourself,” she said.
“It is a great worry to me as I am elderly and need to get repeat prescriptions for medication. This is really a stress I could do without. I won’t let it rest though, because I feel like I am being treated poorly.” The West Road Surgery declined to comment. Andrew Stride, the head of governance, risk and customer services for NHS South Essex, said: “We would advise all patients who have concerns about any aspect of local NHS care to contact the patient advice and liaison service. While we are unable to comment on individual cases, we would like to assure patients there is a procedure GP practices need to follow before they can remove patients from their lists.”