Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

GP excludes patient over tweet row

A letter sent to Mathew Cochrane from his GP surgery excluding him from the practice after he criticised staff on Twitter
A letter sent to Mathew Cochrane from his GP surgery excluding him from the practice after he criticised staff on Twitter

A cystic fibrosis sufferer has been excluded from his local GP surgery after posting an "offensive tweet" about staff.

Mathew Cochrane, 26, expressed frustration after he tried to make an appointment and was apparently told the next available slot with his specialist consultant was three weeks away, but was astonished when Stanwell Surgery, in Penarth, south Wales, responded to his "offensive tweet" by striking him off its list of patients.

His case sparked an outcry on Twitter after Mr Cochrane posted a letter from the GP practice on the social networking site telling him to find another doctor.

The row broke out after Mr Cochrane received a letter stating that he needed to see a doctor and the patient, who usually dealt with a specialist consultant, rang the surgery, concerned something was seriously wrong.

But a receptionist said it would be three weeks before he could have an appointment, he said, adding he was informed that if he wished to make a complaint, he should make it in writing.

The driving instructor, from Penarth, took to Twitter to hit out at the "attitude from staff" at the practice and in a further posting he referred to the staff as "t***s".

The comments prompted a letter from the head of practice, Dr Jonathon Evans, telling Mr Cochrane that his name would be removed from the surgery's list of patients and advising him to find another GP.

Mr Cochrane posted the correspondence on the micro-blogging site where he wrote: "What happened to freedom of speech? This is truly shocking if you ask me", and was supported, with one Twitter user writing: "What happened to freedom of speech!!!"

A spokesman for Stanwell Surgery said it could not comment "because of patient confidentiality" but a statement on its website read: "Any patient who needed to be seen urgently would be contacted by telephone and seen on the same day by the duty doctor.

"No patient has to wait three weeks to see a doctor, our appointment system allows for 'on the day' and '48 hour' appointments. If our appointments have gone and a patient feels they need to be seen they are triaged by the duty doctor."

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