Retiree with kidney stones resorts to £120 taxi after he can't see GP

·3-min read
Melvin Belcher outside the Woodland Medical Centre where he has been a lifelong picture <i>(Image: Ed Nix)</i>
Melvin Belcher outside the Woodland Medical Centre where he has been a lifelong picture (Image: Ed Nix)

A retired man who suffers from kidney stones was forced to shell out £120 for a taxi because he could not be seen by his GP surgery.

Melvin Belcher, from Didcot, said he was in “terrible pain” when he rang the Woodlands Medical Centre to seek medical assistance at around 4.15pm on February 4.

When a receptionist answered his call, they reportedly told the 65-year-old that it would be impossible for him to be seen that day.

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Mr Belcher, who has been a lifelong patient of the medical centre, said: “I phoned up and said, ‘I’m in terrible pain and I don’t call you unless its urgent, but I need to see a doctor now.’

“They said, ‘sorry we can’t deal with you’.

He was instead referred to NHS 111 – a number for urgent healthcare need that isn't life-threatening.

Following that call, he was told to go to the East Oxford Health Centre off Cowley Road, Oxford, as it would be close to the John Radcliffe hospital if his condition were to deteriorate.

“When I did get through, they apologised and they were very helpful,” he said. “They told me to get there (Cowley) and I would be seen.”

Mr Belcher booked a car from Go Green Taxis at 7pm and used the service to return home later that evening after he was treated. The trip cost him more than £120 both ways.

He said: “I have got to say that I did get to see a doctor in Cowley and he was a very nice gentleman, but I just feel that you shouldn’t have to pay that sort of money to go and see a doctor.

“I struggle and I am retired. I have got my own house, but I have to budget and that crippled me for my food. You just have to dig into the freezer.

“I support myself but when you have to spend £120 in one evening, it’s disgusting.”

Last week, Mr Belcher tried to call Woodlands Medical Centre again and was unable to get through.

He said: “I don’t phone or go to the doctors unless its really necessary because I know there’s other people out there, but I’d like to be seen when I do need to go.

“It feels like I’m unwanted and your not anything to your GP you’ve been with all your life. It’s disheartening.”

A spokesperson for the NHS Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board said: We are unable to discuss individual patients. However, if someone contacts their GP practice towards the end of a working day they may not get an appointment for the same day if all available appointments are already booked.

"In this situation, they will be advised to contact NHS 111 which will refer them to an out of hours service if clinically appropriate. There are a number of out of hours clinics in Oxfordshire and they will be booked into the one most convenient to them if an appointment is available. But they could be seen at another site if it has an earlier slot and they can travel there.

“If a patient has any concerns about any aspect of their care at their GP practice, their first step should be to raise the issue directly with the surgery.”