In a message to patients on 22 June 2022, Donnington Medical Practice in Telford has indicated that they are now only prioritising 'urgent' assistance for patients due to staffing issues.

This message lacks any meaningful detail and raises significant concerns as to the meaning of 'urgency' in this context. In particular, there is no guidance as to:

  • What constitutes 'urgent' medical assistance?
  • Where should patients go in the first instance?
  • How do patients know what is "urgent" and what is not?
  • How does this fit in with 'urgent' assistance that requires urgent hospital treatment?
  • Are patients better off seeking assistance at A&E or elsewhere?
  • How patients are to obtain prescriptions, test results and medications?

Laura Weir, an associate solicitor with Shrewsbury based law firm, Lanyon Bowdler, said: "This message may have unintended and potentially devastating consequences for patients and their families. The worrying lack of detail will likely discourage patients from seeking help who unknowingly require urgent medical assistance. Additionally, this shift in priority will likely exacerbate the current backlog of appointments, creating even further delays for patients who are already in dire need of medical treatment."

Donnington Medical Practice has not provided any further guidance or criteria in relation to this notice, and so the matter of 'urgency' remains unclear.

Originally published 28 June 2022.

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