Time to end this injustice now

We all make mistakes. Usually we apologise and move on. However, my doctor made a mistake in regard to the dissolution of his practice, not medical negligence, maltreatment or abuse of patients, nothing like that.

He admits to failing to follow administrative procedures which were supposed to be laid down by NHS Scotland but which in fact were not.

That is why it is puzzling to read this sentence in a note from the HSCP which gives reasons for the practice being reallocated: “The Board’s priority is to ensure the provision of patient care on a safe and sustainable ongoing basis.”

Dr David Neilson is a safe GP with a plan to provide to the best of his skills and knowledge a sustainable service at Dumbarton Health Centre.

He is a really good doctor who is respected to the extent that patients here were genuinely shocked that his contract as a family doctor was immediately terminated after he made what amounts to nothing more than an administrative error.

And that he was invited to look for a new job at Barlinnie Prison, a disgraceful suggestion.

A petition against this termination attracted 1200 signatures, most of them from patients on his 2000-strong panel.

I wrote to NHS Glasgow and Clyde asking them to reconsider their position in light of the fact that the punishment far exceeds the severity of the “crime”.

The doctor has been reduced to the verge of a breakdown and is now on sick leave from his contract in the Out of Hours Service which, even on a cursory investigation, is an administrative shambles with overworked doctors and a risk of danger to patients (see recent reports on page one of the Herald).

I have discovered that one doctor, the medic in the Loch Lomond Mountain Rescue team, was told by NHS Highland never to come back after he complained about patient safety.

Dr Neilson’s wife, Carolyn,  is beside herself with worry that they have had their livelihood prised from them at a stroke,  and that they may even have to leave the community here, or indeed leave Scotland.

That would be a blow not just because we would lose a good GP at a time when there are critical shortages of same, but to our arts and culture community since their 14-year-old daughter, Amelia, is one of this country’s brightest and best young musicians. And Mrs Neilson is a reputable music coach.

Devolution was supposed to bring us a new, vibrant Scotland for the 21st century. Instead we are still wrapped in red tape, beleaguered by bureaucratic bumbledom.

We are blighted by the fact that faceless people who have no idea of the situation on the ground administer our public services from afar.

I know what has happened to this doctor is wrong and by any measure of decency unjust. Even a cursory look at the circumstances of the alleged offence and the punishment meted out demonstrates clearly that it is wrong.

This is a travesty of justice which has been perpetrated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

I raised this matter more than a month ago with Health Minister Shona Robison who assured me that something would be done to correct this situation.

But little or nothing has happened since that meeting in Edinburgh. Maybe it’s time for NHS Scotland to put the scalpel away and set about healing the wound they have inflicted.

Christmas is coming. How about sending some good will down Dumbarton way and putting our doctor back into post?




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