Tuesday, 18 September 2012

So when are GPs going to make it easier to make an appointment?

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I heard a chap from the Patients Association talking about how GPs provide an "office service" these days - no home visits or out-of-hours - and this lies behind some of the rise in complaints about GP services. But more worrying -and pretty scandalous - is that the difficulty in getting an appointment (especially for working people) at most GPs is a potential health risk:

Health experts are encouraging people not to put off seeing their GPs after research showed that almost a quarter of Britons would not see a doctor for a complaint because of the hassle of getting an appointment.

Now these "health experts" have grasped the wrong end of the stick. it is the doctors who are providing (or, it seems, not providing) the service to us not the other way round. And they seem to have slipped into a world where people have no choice but to take time off work so as to see the doctor. One of my favourite sick jokes was discovering that the "evening surgery" in Wilsden was at 3pm. Either doctors are very early to bed of this is something of a redefinition of "evening". 

So perhaps those GPs would like to focus on giving us all some service rather than moaning about the government.

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3 comments:

Poppy said...

Have you an evidence base for this
" hearing a man say " isnt robust investigation
Most surgeries have online booking systems to make booking appts easier
Also have you checked what time evening surgery finishes? For most it's seven pm and they start at 8 am an hour before office hours.
This reads as rhetoric rather than quality writing which is a shame but am sure a search of BMJ online would provide a researched article on this matter with decent findings and conclusions .

Simon Cooke said...

That would indeed be unusual for the BMJ

keneastwood said...

A year or so ago I had reason to see a GP on several occasions for a walking induced foot injury. I found the appointment process extremely frustrating and grumbled on about it, to anyone who would listen, for quite sometime! I'm afraid I can't resist sharing here too.

The saga started when I rang the surgery during the day from work to be told there were no appointments available that day, could I ring back in the morning. I rang in the morning at the prescribed 08:00 (making me an hour late for work) only to be told that as the condition wasn't a medical emergency I couldn't be seen that day as there were no general appointments remaining. OK, easy enough I thought, eCalendar in hand I asked, "When is there an appointment available?"

The response was that it didn't work like that, I'd have to ring back again the next morning at 08:00! That won't work, I protested, as I'll be somewhere along the M62 on the way to work (a good hours drive each way) and if there was an appointment I'd have wasted time going all the way to work only to have to turn around again. The response was, frankly, less than helpful and I was unable to make anyone see sense.

Of course, I eventually got an appointment and the care I received was exceptional but the customer service and general accessibility way less than acceptable for a 21st century public service. From what I've heard since, from my Wife and kids, things haven't improved.