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Doctors appointments, rare as hens teeth?

(94 Posts)
melika Tue 15-Apr-14 09:26:25

Had to wait a week to see a doctor to get blood results. Had to wait a whole month to see a particular female doctor and have just booked her again and have to wait another month! My DH is suffering with joint pain and I tried to get an appointment yesterday and there was nothing left for weeks, I was told you have to ring at 8am today. So.....I did and couldn't get through until 8.15 and all the appointments had gone!

I am flabbergasted.

Receptionist said if he turns up between 8.30-9am
and 2.30-3.30 and says it is an emergency he can wait for a doctor.

So that is what he is going to do but it isn't an emergency! You have to lie to get seen. And...what is an emergency? If it was I would take him to A&E surely?

I picked this surgery after we had recently moved because it has ten doctors!!! What the hell is going on?

Pancakeflipper Tue 15-Apr-14 09:30:34

Same as our surgery but we don't have 10 doctors. DS2 required a non-emergency appt. Had one for 9weeks time.

No wonder people lie and say it is an emergency.

slightlyconfused85 Tue 15-Apr-14 09:30:40

I thought my surgery was bad to try and get an appointment but yours sounds much worse. They usually reserve a few appointments for emergencies - can you book one of those for your DH if he is in a lot of pain? I live in a busy city and our surgery is huge and serves a lot of people - is yours similar? I am thinking of moving to a quieter one in the north of the city as we still fall into its 'catchment' apparently. I'm doing this in hope that it's less of a pita to get an appointment.

SooticaTheWitchesCat Tue 15-Apr-14 09:31:37

That sounds a nightmare. I have never had a problem getting a same day appointment at our doctors. We can also book appointments online and I never have to wait more than a week to see a particular doctor. I don't understand if one Practice can do this then others can't.

Have a look to see if there is another surgery where they have online booking, it works so much better.

melika Tue 15-Apr-14 09:32:27

Well it's a practice where they train doctors too and I thought we would have no problem. I heard they earn on average 100k a year but where are they?

WooWooOwl Tue 15-Apr-14 09:35:33

This is what happens when we have too many people living in areas that don't have the infrastructure to support them unfortuanately. It's why I can't get on board with the idea of building more homes everywhere because of the so called housing shortage.

Our surgery offers telephone appointments to people who need to see a doctor quickly but when it isn't really an emergency, and then the doctor decides whether to see you at the end of morning or afternoon surgery that day or whether you can wait.

Notsoblonde Tue 15-Apr-14 09:36:27

I would probably speak to practice manager, that's unacceptable! I would also say if you can't get an appt you will have to go to a&e and tell them your practice can't offer an appt in an acceptable time.

thegreylady Tue 15-Apr-14 09:37:22

We can always get a same day emergency appointment and never have to wait longer than two weeks for a routine appt. Hoever, if we want a specific doctor it may be 3 weeks as she only works part time.

NCISaddict Tue 15-Apr-14 09:40:32

I called the surgery yesterday and got an appointment for next Thursday but that's only because my GP is on holiday and not back until Wednesday and I would like to see her plus it isn't an emergency.
If she's not on holiday I can normally get an appointment within a couple of days and on the same day with a duty doc if it's an emergency.
My practice is

melika Tue 15-Apr-14 09:41:47

Don't get me wrong the doctors are fantastic, attentive and caring when you can see them!!!

I just thought I could get to see them easily. And they are shut Fri and Mon so that's 4 days in a row they are closed and it's bedlam when they open. What are we to do, get sick in synch with their opening times.

Perfectlypurple Tue 15-Apr-14 09:42:46

Ours is awful too. You can't make appointments more than 4 weeks in advance, so if the doctor says come and see me in 6 weeks you have to wait 2 weeks, ring and then get an appointment for 5 weeks time! It's so frustrating. Sometimes it's not an emergency so doesn't need same day emergency appointment but it's more urgent than a 4 week wait.

afterthought Tue 15-Apr-14 09:48:55

I was flabbergasted when I phoned my new surgery yesterday for an appointment and they had a same day appointment!

My old surgery had a system where there were no appointments before 10am, it was just walk-in. It was brilliant as if you had a minor illness that needed treating you could go to the walk-in session - there were then less people after appointments and minor illnesses could get treated immediately.

melika Tue 15-Apr-14 09:49:26

When the receptionist said, 'We have an appointment for Dr B on 13 May at 10.50'. Well you can imagine my incredulous, cynical, bemused face! hmm

MammaTJ Tue 15-Apr-14 09:53:52

I used to belong to a surgery where they would make an appointment for the Dr to CALL you, yes, on the phone!

My DS had many problems, which were being ignored. I changed surgeries, got an appointment that very day, saw the DR who dictated a letter to the paeds while we were still there. I have been there ever since.

HolidayCriminal Tue 15-Apr-14 09:54:48

Ours is piloting telephone consultations. Even those have a wait of 2-4 weeks. And of course when she rang I was on the loo. blush

LineRunner Tue 15-Apr-14 09:56:05

Depends how the practice is managed, I reckon.

When my practice had a change of senior partner, we all noticed positive changes being introduced - appointments being bookable online as well as by telephone, same day call backs from a duty doctor, telephone appointments, a 'walk in' service operating morning and late afternoon/teatime, GPs' specialisms clearly identified on the practice website.... Oh, and patients being seen on time!

buttercrumble Tue 15-Apr-14 09:56:53

I have never had a problem getting an appt with a GP, but I work on the theory that if you are that poorly you should see any Dr. If you see a certain Gp and they ask to see you again in a month , then book it before you leave the surgery . Don't wait until the day before

melika Tue 15-Apr-14 09:58:47

I really don't know the answer, they are great doctors, practice looks well organised but why do we have to jump through hoops to see them?

SuburbanRhonda Tue 15-Apr-14 10:04:01

We have online booking at my GP. It's honestly changed my life. You can also cancel appointments and order repeat prescriptions.

They release on-the-day appointments at 8am but most of the time the appointments go on at midnight the previous evening, so if you know this you can nip in and get one the night before for the next day. Obviously there are busy times and sometimes there are no appointments.

They also have telephone appointments for emergencies where you speak to the doctor on the phone and then they book you in for later that day.

Hearing what other people on here have to put up with, sounds like we have it pretty good in our surgery. The waiting room is a bit scruffy, though ... wink

FurryGiraffe Tue 15-Apr-14 10:05:28

My surgery has recently started having the GPs triage everyone by phone. You ring up, get a call back from a doctor (usually within a few minutes) and they decide whether/how quickly they need to see you. It's fab with a young baby if you need reassurance! I talked to one of the GPs about it and she reckoned it was cutting the number of patients she physically saw by more than half.

softlysoftly Tue 15-Apr-14 10:07:22

It's down to practice management. Ours is great walk in anytime before 10.30 and you will be seen by someone. Ok so you can't request a specific Dr but that's ok. Kids can get seen anytime in an emergency and even routine apps are fairly fast.

I think the problem is that people don't realise it's a business that the Drs have to run so on top of appointments, clinics, home visits etc they have financial, building and staff management plus paperwork and appraisals and ongoing training and targets to meet with other people eg hospitals, HVs etc and on and on.

Drs are Drs they shouldn't have to be business managers as well! My SIL is a partner in a practice and her partners are terrible, allowing themselves part time hours to locum elsewhere for more money, leaving all paperwork to her, hiring crap staff. So its down to luck if you get a good surgery or a bad one.

hiccupgirl Tue 15-Apr-14 10:12:36

Ours is the same tbh. You ring at 8am when the phone line opens, get through at 8.15 to find all the appointments have gone and to be told you should have called at 8! I have to admit I was very upset at the receptionist who told me this when I had tonsillitis and needed antibiotics and she suddenly found a nurse appointment instead.

Or you request a specific doctor and it's a 4-6 week wait for an appointment. Ours also only let's you book 4 weeks in advance so it just doesn't work if you need an appointment in 6 weeks because you can't book it before you leave.

We have a drop in centre at the other side of the town which you can just go and wait at - this is great but sometimes I do actually want to go to see my own doctor at the surgery I'm registered at.

melika Tue 15-Apr-14 10:13:30

But I have tried online and there still aren't any appointments, I have tried every configuration, different doctors, different weeks, times etc.


Jollyphonics Tue 15-Apr-14 10:18:59

I'm a GP. Since I started nearly 20 years ago I would estimate that, although our total patient number has remained pretty static, we have more than doubled the number of appointments we offer. The problem is that demand has massively increased.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of that "demand" is not generated by the patients voluntarily. For example, diagnostic criteria for diabetes have changed, leading to far more people being diagnosed. Desirable cholesterol levels have reduced, leading to more people needing medication and reviews. Whole new disease entities have been "invented" - CKD for example - requiring numerous blood tests, monitoring, reviews etc. So these days a vast number of appointments are taken up managing people with chronic diseases.

Add to that the recession. I have seen a significant increase in stress, anxiety and depression in the last couple of years, as people battle with financial and employment problems.

Also, we are put under huge pressure not to refer patients to outpatient clinics or to admit them to hospital, because of the cost. GP surgeries are essentially threatened with closure if they incur too many costs from secondary care. So, in an attempt to not refer patients, but still keep them safe, we do more tests in primary care, and see patients for more follow up appointments than previously, when we would have probably referred them on elsewhere.

I would say that my workload, in the last 15 years, has multiplied by at least 5 times, probably more.

So, with all this additional stuff we're asked to do, it makes sense that we'd get lots of extra funding to employ more doctors and nurses doesn't it? Well, that's the problem. We don't. We can sign up to little schemes here and there, promising to reduce our number of admissions by a certain number over a certain time period, and in exchange we'll get a few thousand, but it's not regular income that enables us to take on new staff without the risk of having to make them redundant the following year when the scheme is abandoned. Government schemes are invariably dropped if too many GPs sign up to them, because they don't want to have to pay us. So they cancel the scheme.

The latest thing is nursing homes. The increasing elderly population means that big nursing homes are popping up all over the place. We are now required to do "ward rounds" of nursing homes, which takes one doctor out of surgery for a whole day every week.

I really sympathise with your frustration, it's a dire situation. But until the government acknowledge the need for more doctors and give us more money to employ them, I can't see how it can change. This is a particular concern in areas where lots of new houses are being built. Big increase in population, but no extra teachers or doctors. It's basic maths.

And just for the record - we don't earn 100k. I haven't had a pay rise for about 15 years, not even cost of living. And we're a fairly high earning practice. We channel all our profits back into patient care, but we still have people waiting a couple of weeks to see a doctor sometimes, and longer if they want a specific one.

We need more resources!

Normalisavariantofcrazy Tue 15-Apr-14 10:22:26

Ours is good, we have a walk in service in the mornings with a nurse prescriber working Mondays and Fridays for small things like ear infections etc.

The only difficulty I have is booking and evening appointment with a named GP but that's no issue because I know I can walk in of a morning and see her then

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