Medical centre row: Axminster patient says 'I did not swear at staff'

PUBLISHED: 09:49 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 23:36 15 June 2010

AN AXMINSTER man at the centre of a long-running dispute with his medical centre has denied accusations that he acted abusively towards staff. His case has now been taken up by the Patient Advisory Liaison Service. Terry Hart, 62, of St Andrew's Drive, s

AN AXMINSTER man at the centre of a long-running dispute with his medical centre has denied accusations that he acted abusively towards staff. His case has now been taken up by the Patient Advisory Liaison Service.Terry Hart, 62, of St Andrew's Drive, says he has never been verbally abusive or physically intimidating to anybody at St Thomas Court Surgery, in Church Street, despite alleged accusations by a GP.He said the accusations had been upsetting and he has not used the town's medical centre for over two years as a result.A spokeswoman for the practice told the Herald that all patient complaints are taken seriously.Mr Hart believes his problems started after his wife, Wendy, suffered heart failure in 2006.Mr and Mrs Hart say they had not sought to blame St Thomas Court workers, but feel some members of staff there have been acting defensively.Mr Hart said: "I have been fighting three years and three months. I have aged about 10 years over that time. "The fact is I have been accused of something I have not done. I have never sworn at anybody or been physically intimidating."Wendy, 63, said she has used the word 'bloody' once on the phone - but claimed her husband has never sworn at medical staff.A GP wrote to Mr Hart to impose restrictions on surgery visits, such as needing a third party to attend with him. The restrictions have since been lifted.The ongoing dispute has led the Patient Advisory Liaison Service and Independent Complaints Advisory Service to become involved.There have been numerous letters sent back and forth over the years, and several meetings between the couple and the surgery.Liz Hankin, of Devon Primary Care Trust, wrote to the surgery to say a letter written by a GP had caused the couple a great degree or "worry, anger and confusion".In November 2006 she wrote that none of the staff whom she spoke to said they had felt Mr Hart was physically intimidating or verbally abusive.But, she added: "Two did disclose that they have felt extremely intimidated by his demands but exploration of 'intimidated' revealed 'powerless' as a more fitting adjective."Although staff have tolerated Mrs Hart's swearing, they have never accepted it."Later that month, she wrote: "Surgery seem stuck in blaming and punishing the Harts for what, I feel, are their own shortcomings in communication skills..."A statement, issued by Axminster Medical Practice, said: "We are fully committed to responding to patient complaints in a timely and thorough manner."In all cases, we strive to achieve a satisfactory resolution for the patient.

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