GP working ‘remotely’ in Cornwall more than 250 miles away from her West Sussex surgery

29 November 2022, 15:38 | Updated: 29 November 2022, 15:45

A GP has been conducting online consultations over 250 miles away from her surgery after she relocated Cornish seaside, it's been reported.
A GP has been conducting online consultations over 250 miles away from her surgery after she relocated Cornish seaside, it's been reported. Picture: Rudwick Medical Centre website / Google / LBC

By Chris Samuel

A GP has been conducting online consultations over 250 miles away from her surgery after she relocated to Cornwall, it's been reported.

Dr Justine Hall is among three doctors listed as working at Horsham's Rudgwick Medical Centre.

Dr Hall’s voice greets patients who call the surgery, with the mother-of-three's recorded message stating that it is experiencing “high demand” for its services.

But rather than working on site, Dr Hall now does consultations in Falmouth, some 265 miles away from the surgery, The Telegraph reported.

The quaint village surgery’s website states that since 2015, she has been “working locally” to Guildford, Surrey, a half-an-hour drive from the surgery.

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While the other two doctors can be seen in person, Dr Hall conducts consultations "remotely" two days a week, on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

A patient, who wished to remain anonymous, said it's “outrageous” that the GP is able to continue working from the other side of the country.

She said: "I was staggered when I was told she had moved to Cornwall. They are only offering remote appointments.

“For some diagnoses you need to see someone, and yet they think it's ok to have the number two doctor in the practice living in Cornwall.

"It's just outrageous. It used to be a very highly thought-of practice and now it's not.

“Everyone is fed up with them and no-one has any faith in them any more. Lots of people in the village can't afford to go to a private GP. It's just not fair."

Earlier this month, a senior figure at the Royal College of GPs admitted that doctors had gone “too far” with remote appointments when the pandemic was at its height.

Rudwick Medical Centre, Horsham
Rudwick Medical Centre, Horsham. Picture: Google

Around 80 per cent of GP appointments were held in person pre-Covid, while in September 68 per cent were were face-to-face, figures showed.

Steve Brine MP, chairman of the health committee, said: “We know that general practice is experiencing a crisis with doctors leaving a demoralised profession almost as fast as they can be recruited and patients increasingly dissatisfied with worsening access to care.

“It is concerning to hear reports of patients who are struggling to get face-to-face appointments and who are losing faith in the system.”

Patient Olivia Shepley said she's had to take her two-year-old daughter Alice to A&E three times this month for easily treatable ear infections, as she couldn't get an in-person appointment.

The property manager, 34, said: “We were told Dr Hall had moved to Cornwall by a friend.

“I can’t believe there is a GP on staff who is living in another part of the country - that’s not treatment.”

"Has been fantastic until the last few years when quality of service has been steadily getting worse.”

One in four GPs worked full-time in August.

The number of full-time equivalent qualified permanent GPs was 27,041 in October 2021 but has dropped, to 26,791 last month.

A spokesman for Rudgwick Medical Centre told the paper: “We aim to provide the very best care for our patients.

“If any patients have concerns about any aspect of their care, we would encourage them to contact us directly so we can investigate their concerns through our complaints procedure.

“For a number of years our commissioners and NHS England have supported remote working in our area.”

In another review posted on the West Sussex surgery’s page on the NHS website in August, an anonymous patient wrote: “Have been with this surgery for over 40 years.