Former doctor blasts ‘cavalier’ NHS over Willen Village Surgery closure

Willen Surgery
Willen Surgery

A retired doctor who was asked to run Willen Village Surgery has blasted the ‘cavalier treatment’ of its patients by the NHS.

Dr Eric Rose told the Citizen he was ‘absolutely appalled’ to read about the sudden closure of the surgery – which he had briefly been asked to rescue in 2009 before being told his services were too expensive.

Willen Village Surgery

Willen Village Surgery

The surgery closed suddenly on Friday morning, with patients left confused and angry.

A letter was sent to homeowners in the area, but was not delivered until Saturday. It said Dr Agnelo Lobo had resigned his contract ‘with effect from the 14th April 2013’ and informed patients that they would be split up between four different surgeries based on their surnames.

It has since emerged that another doctor at the surgery, Dr Obiako ‘Eddy’ Okafor, is currently suspended by the General Medical Council. The GMC confirmed it is investigating Dr Okafor, but wouldn’t say what for.

Dr Rose, who was the founding senior partner of the neighbouring Milton Keynes Village Surgery, said there ‘had been concerns for many years about certain aspects of the way Willen Village Surgery was operated’.

Soon after he retired in 2009, he was approached by a senior staff member at Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust who asked him to help run Willen Village Surgery to ‘get it back on its feet’.

He said: “I agreed to do this and having been advised that I might be needed at short notice put other activities on hold I also started to draw up a plan.

“I looked on this as a professional challenge and was prepared to do the work for a very low fee. After several months of hearing nothing I was again contacted by two members of the PCT who repeated their request to me and in order to ensure that I remained available at short notice they offered me a modest retaining fee.

“Later the same day they called me back and said that the PCT Executive has changed its mind on grounds of cost and I would no longer be needed, they would deal with the problems ‘in house’.

“I do not know what has happened in the intervening four years but it is clear that Milton Keynes PCT did not satisfactorily resolve the long running problems and now the surgery has closed.”

The Citizen asked NHS England, Hertfordshire & South Midlands Team, which looks after the surgery, for a response to Dr Rose’s comments on Monday afternoon but has not received one to date.

A statement from the NHS was released confirming Dr Lobo has resigned.

It said: “Unfortunately, due to potential time limitations and restrictions on the use of the building at Willen Village Surgery, Hertfordshire and South Midlands Area Team of NHS England have had to act quickly by allocating and registering patients with other practices in the surrounding area.”

Meanwhile, the manager of newly created independent health and social champion, Healthwatch MK, previously known as LINk:MK, has urged patients to get in touch with them.

Carol Duffy said: “There are a number of complex issues that people haven’t thought about.

“Health is important and we are talking about test results and that sort of thing.

“It has not been thought through. We really want to reach out to people.

“There are a lot of complex issues. For example, if you have a different name from your partner or your children you could end up at different practices.

“A number of people don’t drive. An elderly man contacted us to say he had been sent to a surgery without a bus route.”

Anyone with concerns can contact HealthwatchMK by calling 01908 266696 or by visiting
Former patients at the surgery will now be divided up between four different practices, depending on their surname.

The division will happen as below:

Surname A-C: Kingfisher Surgery, Elthorne Way, Newport Pagnell, MK16 0JR. Tel: 01908 618265

Surname D-O: Broughton Gate Health Centre, Glyn Valley Place, Broughton Gate, Milton Keynes, MK10 7EF. Tel: 01908 874444

Surname P-V: Oaxridge Park Medical Centre, 30, Textel Close, Oakridge Park, Milton Keynes, MK14 6GL. Tel: 0844 5769987 (low rate)

Surname W-Z: Purbeck Health Centre, Purbeck, Stantonbury, MK14 6BL. Tel: 01908 318989