Dear Mr Wilson,
Further to our correspondence over my treatment at the hands of NHS Berkshire West and the request by Dr. RH of UCL for you to look into my case, I followed your instruction and made an appointment to attend one of your surgeries on 7 October at 3.15pm. I booked a double appointment because of my communication difficulties.
As I believe that you have been informed, I arrived at your office on Friday in plenty of time. I was concerned to note that cars were parked closely together directly in front of the entrance and there was a step up to the doorway. My assistant, Harriet, went to ring the doorbell and it was answered by MS. When she was asked where the disabled access was she replied that there wasn’t any. Once I was out of my car she approached us and started talking to my assistant, not acknowledging that I was speaking to her until directed to do so. Her manner was hostile and extremely dismissive. I pointed out that it is against the law to prevent a disabled person from accessing services and that I hadn’t been informed that the office was not accessible when I made the appointment. Her response was, ‘Well, I didn’t make the appointment’, that the other surgeries were accessible and that I hadn’t informed the office that I was disabled. We explained that all that was needed to comply with the law was a portable ramp to which Ms S replied, ‘I haven’t got money to go round buying ramps’ followed by, ‘there’s no point having a go at me’, in an extremely rude tone.
It was suggested that Harriet and I could wait outside until your current meeting had finished and that you would then come out to talk to me. We agreed and subsequently waited in the car park for approximately 30 minutes. I became very cold and it began to rain. I decided that I was not prepared to wait any longer because my illness is aggravated by coldness and I was already in considerable discomfort. Harriet explained this to Matt who was in the office at the time.
I am only too well aware of the difficulties involved in making premises and services accessible to all. I understand that older properties are not always suitable for adjustments to be made. However, I am making this complaint because of Ms S’s attitude when faced with me and my wheelchair. The Equality Act 2010 states that disabled people have rights of access to services. A service provider must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in the way that they deliver their services. This did not happen in my case when I attended my appointment at your constituents’ surgery last Friday. Not only was the law not followed but I was subjected to unpleasant and insulting behaviour by a member of your staff and then suffered the indignity of being left outside in a car park waiting for my MP to turn up late for a scheduled appointment. I also find it surprising that you have made no personal apology to me. A little bit of understanding and empathy can go a long way towards resolving an incident of this nature yet the only person in your office who attempted to improve the situation was your intern, Matt. He went out of his way to try & find a ramp, he offered us hot drinks while we waited, he was polite and he apologised in person at the time and via email later. Ms S would do well to take note.
I have been in touch with Matt about you visiting me at my home. I would hope that this will happen as soon as possible as the matters I wish to bring to your attention have time limits attached. In the meantime, I look forward to receiving your response to the points I have raised.