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Patient with kidney failure believes Lakeside Healthcare in Stamford failed to send referral to Peterborough City Hospital

A patient who waited a year to be referred to hospital has been told she may only have a few weeks to live.

Janice Britchford, 67, from Barnack was told at her last GP appointment that they would refer her to Peterborough City Hospital to see a kidney specialist.

But after waiting months to hear from the hospital and believing the delay was down to the covid pandemic, Mrs Britchford contacted the renal unit herself, only to be told they had no record of her referral.

Peterborough City Hospital
Peterborough City Hospital

Mrs Britchford, who lives with her husband in a sheltered bungalow said she didn’t complain to Lakeside because she trusted her doctor.

It was only when she fell ill last month and was admitted to Peterborough City Hospital that Mrs Britchford had the tests she needed.

“They found my kidneys were failing badly and said they would only last about three months.

“I was told I needed to lose weight before treatment, but because my kidneys have been poisoning me and because my mouth feels horrible, I’ve not been able to eat and have lost about six stone in weight.”

Mrs Britchford is due to hear from the hospital again by phone on June 11, after which she hopes she will be able to begin kidney dialysis.

“I’m worried,” she said. “I can’t walk very far now and I cannot cope with any exertion. I can’t sleep at night.

“It’s been a year since I have been to Lakeside although I have phoned two or three times to get a doctor out. All they do is send a nurse from the clinics. They never send someone you can talk to, to get things done.”

She added: “I want my kidneys sorted - that is what I would like.

“We are due to go on holiday in July to Cornwall. I want to go and have a nice time.

“But they told me my kidneys have got three months and that I could die.”

Mrs Britchford is hoping the weight she has lost will mean she is able to have treatment to improve her kidneys and prolong her life.

Lakeside Healthcare
Lakeside Healthcare

Bill Crowe, 60, is also concerned about administration issues relating to his healthcare.

Two letters sent by hospital consultants to Lakeside about his health were not acted upon, and the results of a hospital biopsy were never received in order to be passed on to him.

The computer repair specialist from Stamford contacted his GP surgery in early summer last year because he was experiencing pains in his abdomen.

A telephone consultation with a GP concluded with Mr Crowe being told he would be referred to see a specialist at Peterborough City Hospital.

“In November I saw a specialist at the hospital who made a prescription and a recommendation that I go for an endoscopy,” he said.

But by February this year, Mr Crowe had not received an appointment for the endoscopy and the medication he was prescribed by the specialist had not been added to those held by his GP.

He used Lakeside’s online consultation system to enquire about the prescription and the endoscopy.

“I was told the letter from the hospital consultant had been ‘filed away’ without being actioned,” he said.

A prescription was not actioned
A prescription was not actioned

“I then had an endoscopy at the hospital which found I had polyps. They did a biopsy on two of the polyps. One was quite large and so had a chance of being cancerous.

“I was told the biopsy results would be with the doctor at Lakeside in 10 days.”

After about 12 days had passed, Mr Crowe had not heard anything, so rang Lakeside. He was told there was no record of them receiving the results.

A GP who was looking into the missing results said they would call Mr Crowe back the following day, after they had spoken with the hospital. Several days passed, and when Mr Crowe rang up Lakeside, the doctor said a call had been made to the hospital and the job ‘crossed off the list’ - this was without the promised call being made to Mr Crowe.

“By the time I received the letter for the follow-up appointment at the hospital I had still not received the biopsy results from Lakeside,” he said.

In mid-March, Mr Crowe again saw a consultant at the hospital who told him the biopsy results were clear, but that the larger polyp would need surgery. He also amended Mr Crowe’s prescription.

“Again the prescription had not been changed when I came to try to get it,” said Mr Crowe.

“I rang the prescription line at Lakeside and was told they could see the prescription, but would need to get a doctor to action it. It had been filed away again.”

Mr Crowe said he doesn’t believe there is any point in complaining on the Lakeside website while there is no patient participation group in place.

The group, which represented Lakeside Stamford patients, carers and staff, notified its 550 active members that it would fold after the Lakeside “refused to engage” with the committee.

Mr Crowe said he is planning to register with a different GP surgery outside of Stamford.

The sign for Sheepmarket Surgery, Stamford
The sign for Sheepmarket Surgery, Stamford

Responding to the issues Mrs Britchford and Mr Crowe have raised, Lakeside GP partner Dr Sara Hall said: “Obviously we cannot comment on individual patients cases due to patient confidentiality but would encourage any patients who do have any concerns to contact the practice directly so that we can look into them.

“We take any patient complaint extremely seriously and will look into any issues raised and investigate them thoroughly.”

Kanchan Rege, chief medical officer, for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust which runs Peterborough City Hospital, added: “We are sorry to hear that these patients have experienced some issues with the communication between the Trust and Lakeside.

"We are keen to ensure that we provide great communication to our patients at all times. Unfortunately we are unable to comment on individual cases, due to patient confidentiality, however if the patients affected could contact us directly via our PALs team then we will be able to discuss this with them going forward.”

Complaints can be made in writing to: Lakeside Healthcare Stamford, St Mary’s Medical Centre, Wharf Road, Stamford, PE9 2DH. Alternatively, there is an online complaint form at www.lakesidehealthcarestamford.co.uk/make-a-complaint.

Patients of Lakeside Stamford are also invited to take part in a new survey which will help inform the Care Quality Commission, the government watchdog which inspects GP services.

The survey can be found here.

Stamford and Bourne MP Gareth Davies (Con) has received many letters from patients regarding healthcare services in Stamford, and has followed up concerns.

Yesterday, he said: “The NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are responsible for GP primary care services in Stamford and so I met with their chief executive, John Turner last week and his colleague, Andy Rix who is the chief operating officer for the south locality at the CCG about concerns that have been raised with me about the primary care services provided by Lakeside Healthcare.

“I was informed that the CCG had received assurances from Lakeside that work is underway to address the reported inadequate telephone service.

“I understand that this work involves upgrading the technology system of processing calls and that this will be taking place in the next few weeks.

John Turner, chief officer for NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group
John Turner, chief officer for NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group

“Having a good working relationship between the CCG and the primary care provider is incredibly important. The CCG have assured me that they are in daily contact with leaders at Lakeside Healthcare and are fielding patient concerns whenever they are received.

“I have further been in contact with the Care Quality Commission and will be meeting with their inspectors, to discuss the level of service currently being provided to residents of Stamford and the surrounding villages.

“I am keeping constituents informed of these discussions but would also encourage those with concerns to raise them directly with the CCG too.”

Patients who feel their complaint has not been dealt with effectively by their GP practice can complain to the NHS by phoning 0300 311 22 33.

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