AN angry grandfather has criticised a surgery after it refused to treat his granddaughters after they developed chest infections.

Bockings Elm councillor Ted Whitmore called the Epping Close surgery, in Kennedy Way, Clacton, after his twin granddaughters Nancy and Alexi, aged two, fell ill on Friday.

His granddaughters were visiting from Potters Bar and were staying with Mr Whitmore and their grandmother Anne for a few days.

Reception staff told them they could not see the twin girls and that they would need to be taken to Colchester Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department – 17 miles away.

They called the surgery at 1.30pm, but after getting caught in traffic following a car fire on the A120, the girls were finally seen by medics at 7pm.

Mr Whitmore said: “We shouldn’t have been refused – it was not just a sniffle. We had two two-year-old girls that could have been seriously ill - they were so lethargic.

“They could have been seen by the surgery and didn’t need to endure the ordeal of being driven to Colchester. They were crying in their car seats all the way.

“When the surgery answered, my wife told the receptionist the girls were quite ill and she seemed as if she could help.

“The receptionist went away to ask what to do and when she came back she said all the appointments were taken for the day and they would have to go to A&E. We can’t be the only grandparents in this area who look after their grandchildren from time to time – we can only assume they wouldn’t treat them because they are not registered at the surgery.

“It’s unacceptable – we’re concerned that if they are ill when visiting us again in the future, they will have to go through such an ordeal again - it’s ridiculous.”

The girls were diagnosed with chest infections and are being treated with steroids and antibiotics.

Mr Whitmore added: “A&E is the most expensive way to treat people and aim is to steer people away from there.

“But the doctors’ surgeries here are sending people to A&E when it seems so unnecessary to do so.”

The surgery had not responded at the time of going to press.