Giles Watling, Member of Parliament for Clacton, has issued a statement in relation to local health concerns regarding the ACE practices.

Giles said:

“Since I was first elected in June 2017 the issue of the ACE surgeries has generated the most correspondence that I have received on any local issue.  I am acutely aware that this issue is still ongoing and I am deeply frustrated that this situation doesn’t seem to have been resolved.  Both my wife and I are patients of one of the practices and we have first-hand experience of the challenges others have written to me about, obtaining an appointment for example. 

"It is vital that the ongoing issues are resolved to ensure patients are treated quickly, receive repeat prescriptions in a timely manner and obtain test results swiftly.  Not only that, but it is also unacceptable that patients are still encountering lengthy delays when trying to book an appointment with a GP. The telephony system has been nothing short of appalling.  However, I am given to understand that this issue at least is improving.

"I first wrote to Sam Hepplewhite, the then Chief Operating Officer in May 2018.  Since that letter I met with Sam a number of times, corresponded with her on countless occasions and also held a meeting with Sam and Ian Davidson, Chief Executive of Tendring District Council, to look at what can be done to hold ACE to account.  Sam is no longer in post however I have already written to the new Interim Accountable Officer Ed Garrett requesting an update and I am meeting him shortly.

"I attended a Joint Patient Participation Forum meeting to listen to the concerns raised by all PPG’s. Following that meeting I wrote to ACE outlining the concerns that were discussed.  I have met with Lynne Woodcock in Parliament on two occasions – June and October – during these meetings I was given reassurances that these ongoing issues were being addressed.  I was advised that staff had been recruited to operate the telephony systems and that processes had been amended to address the issue of patients obtaining repeat prescriptions and test results.

"Improvements were not forthcoming so I wrote the Care Quality Commission to ask for an inspection to be carried out in each of these practices.  Disappointingly the response I received stated that each of the four practices had been inspected fairly recently and no further inspection would be carried out earlier than their next scheduled inspection.

"I have sent further letters to Lynne Woodcock and, just before Christmas, I wrote to the Secretary of State at the Department of Health raising the concerns I have in relation to the performance across the four practices.  I asked what more can be done to hold ACE to account, leveraging their contract and enforcing non performance if appropriate.

"I am disappointed that my efforts so far have not seen sustained improvement across the ACE practices but I want to assure all patients, I will continue to work tirelessly to achieve this.  I am frustrated that my efforts so far have not yielded the results we all deserve but I will not rest until we get the service we expect.”