17 July 2014
Foreign language patients 'being refused access to Dover GPs'
Health bosses are investigating concerns that foreign language patients have been refused access to GP services in Dover.
The Express understands concerns were raised by a number of the town's eastern European residents as well as the manager of Dover Medical Practice (DMP), which takes on a high number of such patients but faces closure in November.
Allegedly other practices have told patients they could not register because no interpreting services were available, despite NHS England offering to fund them.
DMP manager Linda Hearne said: "Dover Medical Practice provides interpreting services to all patients, as required, in order to meet the needs of those patients who are either registered with us or who are redirected to us, fulfilling the terms of our contract.
"We are not in a position to comment on why other practices in Dover do not."
A spokesman for NHS England (Kent and Medway) said: "We are currently investigating concerns that a small number of practices in Dover are not providing access to an interpreting service for their patients. We have had patients raise concerns generally about lack of availability and we are still investigating which practices are affected.
"It is important that local practices meet the needs of patients and their local communities and we are working to raise awareness of the importance of this service among practices.
"We will take appropriate action if it is found that practices are not meeting these needs."
Meanwhile a letter obtained by the Express from Dr Darren Cocker, chairman of the GPs in charge of local healthcare funding, suggests other surgeries will struggle if DMP closes and its "highly complex" patient list is dispersed.
He wrote: "Other practices have indicated they would have great difficulty coping with taking on additional patients.
"It is concerning to learn that some are potentially refusing patient registrations on the basis of not having interpreting services available.
"We consider DMP to provide an excellent service to a group of patients with significantly complex medical and social needs."