Last night I attended a public meeting of (mainly) patients at Dr Suresh Vatsyayann’s Vercoe Rd medical clinic. Between 140-150 people were present at a meeting that was called with one day’s notice.
Whatever one thinks of the rights and wrongs of Dr Vatsyayann’s actions and philosophies – and I don’t personally agree with all of them – there were at least 2 matters that I believe would be of concern to any elected representative in Hamilton city:
· Dr Vatsyayann has been suspended by the Medical Council for four months, starting after today, yet their hearing into the charges/allegations against him does not take place for another 6 months (in February 2011). This implies that he is viewed as guilty in advance, without any chance to answer the charges until after the punishment has finished.
· Dr Vatsyayann was given one week’s notice of suspension of his license – he is the sole GP running his clinic, which has over 3,000 patients on its books - at a time when it is widely acknowledged that there is great difficulty getting locums or other replacement medical professionals – how much consideration did the Medical Council give the needs of these members of the Hamilton community?
City Councillors and MPs have no ability to directly influence such actions by this powerful and independent body – however that does not mean that we should not express our opinions on behalf of our constituents.
From a more ‘personal opinion’ viewpoint, I observed that a large proportion of patients at the meeting were from self-described ‘lower socio-economic’ groups who had initially been attracted to Dr Vatsyayann’s clinic because of his policy of free consultations. This service he offers is not replicated by any other medical centre in the city, so there will be severe implications for some Hamilton families as a result of the Medical Council’s actions.
There were a number of others present who stated that although they could afford to attend medical centres with the normal high charges, they chose to have Dr Vatsyayann as their GP because of their regard for his medical skills.
If any of you feel inclined to find out more about the situation, I urge you to contact Ms Raewin Peck (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is co-ordinating a patients’ group in support of Dr Vatsyayann’s license to practice being restored.