Patient's anger at jab advice cost

AN Ipswich woman told she would have to pay before her GP gave her a vaccination today left the practice in protest.Hazel Pettifor , of Borrowdale Avenue, has changed doctors after being told she could not have a Hepatitis A vaccination unless she paid a company for a report on what vaccinations were needed for her travel.

AN Ipswich woman told she would have to pay before her GP gave her a vaccination today left the practice in protest.

Hazel Pettifor , of Borrowdale Avenue, has changed doctors after being told she could not have a Hepatitis A vaccination unless she paid a company for a report on what vaccinations were needed for her travel.

Mrs Pettifor, who is travelling to Trinidad on business next month, said the information is available free of charge elsewhere, and should be accepted by the doctors.

Her practice, at Orchard Street, Ipswich, said it is now telling patients about alternative, free sources of information as it “believes in patients having the option of choice with regard to their own health.”


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In a letter to Mrs Pettifor, Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) which oversees GPs, said: “In my opinion, while the practice is within its rights to ask for production of a health report, it is not necessarily right to insist you provide the information from one particular company.

“Colleagues within the PCT are preparing guidance in response to your complaint to circulate to all practices, detailing alternative websites which provide similar information free of charge.”

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Mrs Pettifor, who has been at the practice for five years, said: “A member of reception staff told me I needed to get the report when I rang up for an appointment.

“I said I wouldn't pay so she double-checked with nurses and doctors but came back and said that was the procedure and I wouldn't be able to have the vaccination without the report.

“I'm travelling soon so haven't got time to argue.”

The document Mrs Pettifor was told to buy by the Dr Solway and Dr Whale practice was a Travel Health Brief, from the travel company Masta, costing £3.99.

Mrs Pettifor, who now has an appointment booked at a different practice, said: “It's not ethical. They are asking you to pay for public domain information.

“People have probably been paying without asking questions, and they shouldn't have been told it's the only way.”

n Would you have changed doctors or paid for the report? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

“Travel advice depends on the specific details of the travel arrangements of each individual traveller. Not all treatment connected with overseas travel, for example Malaria treatment or some vaccinations are available on the NHS, and these are provided as a private service by GP practices.

Because of the changes in international travel recommendations which occur we felt, as a practice, that patients should have access to as up to date advice as possible to ensure their safety.

We recommend a national company who specialise in travel advice and feel that the small charge they make is appropriate. We are aware that incorrect advice and treatment could lead to health problems which could totally spoil an otherwise expensive holiday. We do not benefit from the company we recommend, the recommendation is made purely on research carried out by ourselves before we introduced our travel advice policy.

Since this event we have been informed by our PCT that they subscribe to a travel health website, where the information is free. We now advise patients of the availability of this website as well as the one we have advised in the past as we believe in patients having the option of choice with regard to their own health.”

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