Disabled woman arrested and handcuffed at GP center as she pleads for pain relievers
A former medical worker has told how she was arrested and handcuffed by police after refusing to leave a Birmingham doctor’s office because she needed to see a doctor for pain medication.
Karen Hemmingway, 59, had visited West Heath surgery for pain relievers, but says she was told they could not be prescribed in soluble form.
The former NHS phlebotomist is registered disabled and walks with a cane after suffering a serious knee injury two years ago, reports Birmingham live.
She says that when she insisted that she wanted to see a doctor, the police were called and she was arrested and handcuffed, before being later arrested.
Surgery says she called the police because Ms Hemmingway had filmed in the practice and refused arrest requests, while West Midlands Police said she responded to reports that she had also “argued with the staff”.
The mother of two, of Bournville, is now asking surgery for an apology for this incident.
She said: “I am shocked and extremely upset with my treatment. I did not lose my temper or scream, not at all. I said I could not leave because I had no tablets and that I needed to talk to a doctor.
“I just said, ‘I’m going to sit there, but please let me talk to a doctor.’ I didn’t think for a moment that they would call the police.”
The drama began when Ms Hemmingway visited her pharmacist to pick up her usual repeated prescription two weeks ago.
She was told that her GP told her that she could not have them in soluble form.
She then went to West Heath Surgery, where the situation worsened when she said she was told no doctor could see her.
The grandmother of the two said: “I knew that if I had to go without my painkillers, I would be in great pain on the weekends.
“I was told that if I didn’t go the police would be called.
“I insisted, very politely, that I should at least talk to a doctor.
“I said I really needed to talk to a doctor because I’m in a lot of pain, I don’t have any anymore. And they said, ‘Well, unless you go, we’ll call her. police “.
“I didn’t think they would, but the police came and handcuffed me and put me in the back of a police car, which was absolutely appalling.”
Ms Hemmingway, who worked at Birmingham Orthopedic Hospital, added: “I still can’t believe this actually happened. It was just very shocking.
“I said to the police, ‘I’m just waiting for painkillers, I just want to talk to the doctor.’ But they didn’t try to talk to me for long and immediately the handcuffs came out. I was absolutely stunned.
“They told me that they were arresting me for violating public order.
“I have researched this since and it applies if you are a danger to yourself or to others, which is absolute nonsense because I am very calm, very calm.
“If I hadn’t been calm or screamed, I could have understood, but none of this happened.”
Police took Ms Hemmingway to her home in Dingle Close – where neighbors saw her in the police car.
She said, “After the police put the handcuffs on me, they just took me home.
“All the neighbors obviously saw, which was embarrassing. My son was also present at the time.”
Ms Hemmingway says she then suffered so much that she was forced to go to A&E at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
She said: “The staff there said my blood pressure and heart rate were very high. They were so worried that I had a heart tracing done.
“Finally, after five hours, I was given pain medication and sent home.”
She added: “I am extremely traumatized to be treated in this way, especially when all I wanted was my medication. I have never been arrested before.
“I felt extremely embarrassed and violated.”
West Heath Surgery said in a statement: “Any decision regarding medication prescribed to patients is based on clinical requirements and safety.
“General practitioners and other prescribers will do everything possible to understand a patient’s condition and their broader health needs before offering a prescription.
“Where a drug may be inappropriate or unsafe for a patient’s specific clinical condition, an alternative management plan will be offered to ensure that the individual continues to receive the support they need.
“We encourage all patients to attend their blood check-ups to ensure that the safety of medications can be assessed and that treatments are not stopped.
“Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot comment on this individual case and its extraordinary circumstances.
“All practices in Birmingham and Solihull have a zero tolerance policy to protect staff and patients, which includes filming in public areas of surgery, without patient and staff consent, to protect confidentiality patients.
“We respect the right of every patient to attend our surgery without fear of being recorded and potentially any recording that surfaces in the public domain.
“In the very rare event that staff cannot handle a situation in the office, the police may be called in to help support the resolution of the conflict. “
The statement added: “We would like to thank the West Midlands Police for their assistance in this matter and respect their decision whether an arrest should be made.
“We encourage all patients to treat NHS staff with respect and kindness, especially during what continues to be a very trying time for everyone, we need to work together as communities to get through this time.
“West Heath Surgery treats thousands of patients each year and is proud of the service we provide to our patients, especially during this pandemic. This would not be possible without the dedication of our clinical and non-clinical staff. “
A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “Staff at West Heath Medical Center called 999 to report that a patient was refusing to leave their premises.
“They said the patient had been there for over an hour, filming and arguing with staff.
“The police contacted the center again shortly after and were informed that the situation was continuing. Officers attended the scene and arrested a 59-year-old woman on suspicion of a public order violation.
“She was brought home and arrested. No further action will be taken.”