MP responds to backlash after ‘blocking’ constituents following social media post

Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs, has responded to criticism from constituents and a doctors’ surgery over comments he made on social media.

Andrew Griffith
Andrew Griffith

In September, NHS England sent a letter out to all doctors, reiterating the importance of providing in-person appointments for those who need them.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Griffith interpreted those comments as GPs being ‘ordered’ to give patients face-to-face appointments, following ‘growing concern’ that too many people are being ‘shut out’ from surgeries and only being offered remote consultations.

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Staff at Petworth Surgery were left ‘horrified’ by Mr Griffith’s tweet having offered nearly 1,500 face-to-face appointments in the last five months.

Replying to Mr Griffith’s Twitter post, the surgery wrote: “Horrified that our MP has tweeted this without bothering to check what his constituent surgeries have been offering throughout the pandemic.

“We invite @griffitha to visit and discuss this with the GPs and the practice team.”

Mr Griffith has since clarified his comments in a statement to the Observer. 

“This has nothing to do with Petworth Surgery which says they remained open for face to face consultations throughout the pandemic,” he said.

“However, many constituents across my large constituency which extends all the way to Keymer have raised the issue of access to in person appointments with me so I was pleased that the Government has made clear that GPs should return to providing these.”

However, constituents have also taken exception to Mr Griffith’s decision to ‘block’ Twitter accounts which raised concerns directly with him. 

Petworth town councillor Harsha Desai said she was among many accounts, including the surgery, to be blocked by the MP. She said: “It’s weird that he would block people in his constituency, and the surgery more than anything.”

Petworth resident Kate Coote said she was also banned from viewing or interacting with Mr Griffith’s tweets. 

She said: “There’s irony in that he said patients were being shut out from GPs but he’s now shutting out his constituents.

“I effectively have no voice with my MP.”

Responding to these comments, Mr Griffith said: “I currently have a Twitter account so that constituents can follow my activity.

“In common with other Members of Parliament this is moderated for abuse.

“Currently over 2,800 people follow me with the full spectrum of political views being represented.

“Unfortunately, unlike other social media, Twitter users are anonymous but I always encourage my constituents to email, write or to seek a surgery appointment if they have concerns.”

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