Dear [surgery name],
I am writing to you to register a complaint about the disgraceful, unethical, and potentially life-endangering treatment I have received from your surgery. Please note a copy of this letter is also being sent to [name of local] NHS Trust, and to [name], my MP.
On [date], I was admitted on emergency grounds to [name of] hospital, following eleven days of intermittent chest pain. Tests at the hospital revealed that I had suffered a heart attack and required urgent care. Despite this fact, when I exercised my right to informed consent to politely decline a COVID-19 nasal swab, I was informed by nursing staff that this test was non-negotiable, and that if I did not agree to receive it, I would be forced to leave the hospital.
Inflicting this kind of coercive bullying on a heart attack patient is not only profoundly unethical and illegal, as per the Montgomery ruling and multiple treaties on medical ethics and human rights, it is also deeply negligent, as it meant I left the hospital without receiving further or follow-up care. I have written a letter of complaint directly to the hospital, which is attached.
As you will appreciate, following the atrocious treatment I received from [name of] hospital, I was not inclined to seek further support services from them, and simply wished to receive my test results (ECG, X-ray, and bloodwork) so I could seek alternative, private care.
Despite multiple phone calls (where at one point a nurse hung up on me), the hospital has refused to volunteer this vital information, and instead referred me to you, my GP, who referred me back to the hospital. This went on for some time, and I still do not have my test results from either party, meaning effectively I am being held medically hostage. I am now unable to seek the treatment I desire - a fact gravely compounded by the fact I am now also unable to seek care from my GP, as I have been dismissed from the surgery.
I had a lengthy phone call with Dr. [name] on [date], which I have recorded (I did not inform him this conversation was being recorded, as is my legal right), where he informed me that the practice would no longer agree to provide me with healthcare as "communication has broken down".
Communication has only broken down because the surgery refuses to furnish me with my test results, and for no other reason. As my recorded phone conversations with Dr. [name] lay irrefutable testimony to, I am a highly fluent communicator and was willing to communicate with him in detail and at length.
Therefore, it is quite clear to me that the real reason the surgery has washed its hands of me, whilst I remain in medical crisis and in need of urgent monitoring and care, has nothing to do with "communication", but rather, the illegal policy the surgery operates on wearing masks.
I am a heart attack patient, with a history of angina, who often becomes breathless. Therefore, it should be patently obvious to any thinking person - including and especially medical professionals - that I am unable to obscure my airways with tight-fighting material, an action which multiple studies have shown increases dyspnoea (difficult or laboured breathing) and other health issues, even when only worn for short periods (1, 2, 3).
The obvious physical difficulties covering my airways would cause me are exacerbated by the intense anxiety and distress caused by covering my face, which in turn worsens symptoms related to my cardiac issues. This means that I hold multiple medical exemptions under the law to mask-wearing, as per the official Government guidance (4).
It is stipulated quite clearly on the UK Government’s website that the mask-exempt are fully entitled to access all the same services as those who are able to wear masks (including and especially a service as vital as healthcare), and that it is unlawful to discriminate against them by withholding services from them,
In addition, the Equality Act 2010 protects those who are unable to wear a face covering and stipulates in section 112 (Aiding Contraventions) and section 119 (Remedies) that discriminating against those with hidden disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face covering is an offence, punishable by a personal fine of up to £5,000 and punitive damages of between £900 and £9,000 (5).
Due to my own mask exempt status, I have made sure I am thoroughly familiar with the laws that protect my exemption and prevent individuals and institutions from discriminating against me. Therefore, when staff at [name of] surgery informed me that I would not be seen without a mask as that is their "policy", I knew this was unlawful, which was what I politely and appropriately explained to them.
However, the staff revealed themselves as deeply reluctant to accept the law, and I have recorded the encounters I had had with them over this issue on video, which I am happy to make available.
At one point, when I required a blood test, I was informed that if I did not wear a mask, I would have to remain at a six-metre distance from all staff at all times. Obviously, you cannot conduct a blood test on someone whilst remaining six metres away from them, so at this point the situation was descending into sinister farce.
Please allow me to make it abundantly clear that, my heart issues aside, I am a healthy individual with no symptoms of any illness. Therefore, to be treated as if I am a disease vector - a threat so perilous I cannot even access urgent and life-saving treatment - is completely unacceptable and in violation of all medical ethics and human rights law.
In terms of what is deemed "asymptomatic transmission", please note that the World Health Organisation has stated that asymptomatic individuals transmitting disease is "very rare" and that disease control should focus on testing and isolating those with symptoms of disease only (6).
At the current time, I, an individual who has suffered a heart attack and currently has a pulse consistently in the dangerously high range of 110-120 beats per minutes, am in the extraordinary situation where I am unable to access any medical care, either publicly (since my GP has 'fired' me and the local hospital has expelled me) nor privately (since neither of the aforementioned institutions will volunteer my rest results which I urgently require in order to instruct a private practitioner).
In the first instance, I request that my full test results are sent to me as a priority and matter of urgency to my address at the top of this correspondence, and in the second, I require your prompt and urgent reassurance detailing how you will address this outrageous situation, what disciplinary actions will be taken against the staff involved, and how you will compensate me for this atrocious experience.
I look forward to hearing from you within 7 working days.
1) E Person, C Lemercier et al. Effect of a surgical mask on six minute walking distance. Rev Mal Respir. 2018 Mar; 35(3):264-268.
2) B Chandrasekaran, S Fernandes. Exercise with facemask; are we handling a devil’s sword – a physiological hypothesis. Med Hypothese. 2020 Jun 22. 144:110002.
3) C MacIntyre, H Seale, et al. A cluster randomized trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers. BMJ Open. 2015; 5(4)