No improvement

HOW very sad to read your front page article and comments about the problems suffered by patients of Westgate Surgery. I am one of those patients having constantly being unable to get appointments when really needed, including over a week ago when I was informed online that there were no appointments available – Full Stop!

I have not publicly made my feelings known until now, as I fervently hoped that things would improve. Sadly they haven’t. We all know how much pressure the health service and its doctors and staff are under and that we have to accept change, including ‘teething problems’, but it has been very hard to cope with not being informed of such enormous changes when they were happening and finding the problems appear to becoming insurmountable.

My overwhelming emotions when reading this report was how must the team of doctors, nursing and support staff who dedicated so much of their lives, energy and devoted service to their patients over so many years past, must now be feeling. I became a patient at the practise 52 years ago when I moved to Otley as a young woman. I well remember the old style doctor/patient ministrations of Drs Linfoot and Marquis who were followed by Drs Joan and Graham Kirkland who dedicated not only their service to their patients but also to the town. Dr Joan helped deliver my son, and then when as a toddler he was diagnosed with terminal cancer she was there for us every step of the way until he died four years later. She constantly visited us at home and in hospital throughout his treatment, including many weekends, enabling my son to die peacefully in my arms at home on a Sunday, minutes after she had left giving us the last precious moments we needed.

My husband and I desperately miss Drs Pauline Spencer, Simon Robinson, Oliver Sykes and other doctors and staff all now sadly moved on. They deserve our sincere thanks for their unstinting devoted care over the years. The reception staff always answered the telephone quickly and dealt with all enquiries in a friendly, helpful and efficient manner. I’m sure many of Westgate’s patients will join me in being very grateful to those who for many years fostered a trusted doctor/patient service to thousands of Otley residents.

I do wish the new team every good wishes in trying to sort out the problems, because I am sure that all they only want to do is what they have spent so many years of hard training and dedicated work to do and that is help their patients in their times of need.

Pauline Garner

The Oval,


Impressive service

I WAS astonished to see Alex Sobel’s attack on hard working NHS personnel in the paper. At a difficult time for the NHS they need encouragement and understanding not a kick in the stomach.

We are new residents to Otley and joined Westgate Surgery two years ago.

Since joining we have been very impressed with the service offered and especially the 8am phone call system. One may have to wait but your place in the queue is assured. I have just attended a carer’s tea afternoon which was delightful.

I am not so blinkered as to think that all is perfect but would just like to say to the Westgate Team, well done and thanks.

Margaret Thompson

Vicarage Gardens


Listen to concerns

I AM an Otley Resident and patient at Westgate Surgery and I read with interest Jim Jack’s balanced article concerning the call centre referred to as The Hub which handles patient calls to Westgate surgery.

There have been a number of patient concerns regarding the modus operandi of the Hub. In his article Mr Jack referred to the 39 feedback posts on NHS Choices. Many of them were posted anonymously and mine was one where I identified myself as I feel qualified to comment about Westgate Surgery.

The reception staff in the surgery are polite, professionally discreet and able to undertake the duties of medical receptionists. Since 2016 I have met two doctors who have conducted themselves to high professional standards while retaining a friendly consulting environment. I also had treatment from the practice nurse who exhibited similar standards.

My experience with the call centre was not so positive. Initially I was unaware it was a call centre in Leeds (the practice refers to it as The Hub). Nor was I aware that a private company, One Medical, was running my GP practice. I conducted the exchange believing it was directly with the surgery in Westgate. My recollections of this first interaction are printed in NHS Choices some of which I acknowledge may not be totally accurate but the substance of my report is correct.

I could not access an urgent appointment when I was quite ill. There are many other reports on NHS Choices which indicate that there are indeed teething difficulties with the speed of telephone response and an inability to obtain GP consultations in the time span patients specified their wish and need. I believe the challenges that face the call centre are still present which is evidenced by recent comments on the Choices site.

Subsequent to my experience some two months later I was invited to meet with the practice co-ordinator Helen and the medical director Dr Kirkby where I expressed my concerns I was invited to join a patient forum. I accepted and attended my first meeting on Thursday 19th April. The concerns highlighted in your article were raised there. In fairness the positive aspects identified in my opening comments were also present. One patient had experienced no difficulties with the call centre. I joined the forum to try to express and resolve the concerns I held and those of the other patients. I can walk to Westgate Surgery. Otley needs a thriving practice to complement The Charles Street Surgery. To achieve this the management of Westgate will need to heed the concerns raised on the Choices site.

Dudley Parker

Mount Pisgah


Fond memories

It was with great interest that I read the tribute to Percy Monkman by his grandson, Martin Greenwood, via Annette McIntyre (Gazette/Wharfedale 12/4/18).

I remember my late mother, Margery Boocock (née Ormonroyd) – also a Bradfordian – talking fondly of Percy Monkman when I was a child. Percy was in Bradford Players, performing at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, when my mother joined to play a leading role in Wild Violets in 1947. In the Wild Violets programme, it says ‘he has played comedy roles for 10 years with the Bradford Civic Playhouse and is well known as a solo entertainer’. So, as well as a talented artist, he was also a talented actor. He was obviously a great character, and although he was almost three decades older than my mother, he was a strong influence on her at the beginning of her amateur theatre life, and I am sure they were in many more productions together. Oh, how I wished I had listened more intently as a child to tales she used to tell of her life in the theatre and the wonderful people she met.

My mother took part in over 500 shows for HM Forces during the Second World War, prior to Wild Violets, and I wondered if Percy Monkman was perhaps in the same entertainment party, as it was set up by the stage manager of the Alhambra Theatre at that time. How wonderful that his grandson has captured Percy’s life story in a book for all to read.

Julie Boocock


Support available

WITH regard to the recent publicity concerning the pollution in our cities and towns, I would like to highlight the little known condition of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (or just IPF).

We all hear of COPD, which seems to be an umbrella term for bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer and other breathing illnesses, yet PF is never mentioned in the press or any advertising features. Perhaps this is because the disease is life limiting to within a few years of diagnosis and there is no cure as yet.

For those people suffering from PF and their carers, there is an excellent support group which is held every two months at Stanningley Rugby Club between 1pm and 3pm.

The full address is: The Arthur Miller Stadium, Coal Hill Drive, Leeds, LS13 IPA.

Tea, cakes a raffle and a speaker are the order of the day with time to chat with other members

You will be made to feel very welcome should you come, and the next meeting will be held on Thursday, 31stMay when Verity Parker Poulson will be speaking about the Breathe Easy groups in and around Leeds. Following on to the next meeting on Thursday, July 26, Pam Harcourt, ‘ I did it for kicks’ will be speaking about her experiences as a former Tiller girl. Sounds fun!!

Just to stress, the group is for PF suffers and their carers only.

Name and address supplied