"Trying to book GP appointments"

About: NHS Ayrshire & Arran

(as the patient),

'Phoned surgery to be told two week wait for a routine appointment with any doctor. This has happened before. Think this is unreasonable. Would to know if this is common practice in other Scottish GP practices.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››

Responses

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Eunice Goodwin

Dear FMC,

I think this may happen more often than we would like but demands on Primary Care continues to increase. I have certainly experienced this on occassison, particularly if there is a specific person I wanted to see. Thank you for raising this, I will pass this to someone in the Primary Care Management Team for their response.

Kind regards

Eunice

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Update posted by FMC (the patient)

Thanks Eunice for your reply. As I said in my story I asked for any doctor. I just think two weeks is far too long. Are there no guidelines for GP practices in Scotland on what would be considered a minimum time before a patient has to have access to a doctor?

Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Eunice Goodwin

Dear FMC,

I agree that for some things, two weeks may be way too long. I have spoken to a GP colleague and he has confirmed that you should be seen in a ‘time scale appropriate to your clinical needs’. Therefore if you are not given an appointment as soon as you consider appropriate, you can request a telephone triage. In other words a GP can have a conversation with you over the phone and decide what the appropriate action and time-scale for that should be.

If this still does not feel right for your condition, your next step would be to complain. This is initially done through the practice, usually going via the practice manger. There will be a complaints procedure for your practice either on your practice website or available in leaflets in the practice.

I hope this is helpful to you and you get a speedy resolution and speedy recovery from your ailment.

Kind regards

Eunice

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Update posted by FMC (the patient)

Thanks Eunice. I find it hard to believe that there aren't any guidelines for routine appointments. It really leaves an onus on the patient to determine if they can wait or not and self diagnose their ability to wait. Some patients might not be the demanding type and really lose out here. Presumably those who feel they can't wait for whatever reason then get an emergency appointment as I can't imagine many doctors not saying you need to come in.

Perhaps some sort of guidance is needed on what might wait and what is more serious or if the practice does have lengthy waiting times it should immediately offer the triage screening process. To me there seems to be an issue when the onus is on the patient to solve this rather than the organisation look at what is happening in the practice. If two weeks for an appointment is not acceptable and your using your emergency appointments for generally routine appointments then what is the organisational structure doing to look at how they shape their service to get this back on an even keel. Most practices in my area offer routine appointments in 3-4 days after speaking to friends in Ayrshire and Arran. That is of course not a scientific analysis but presumably the health board monitors waiting times and can identify where issues are arising?

In relation to complaints the complaints form in my practice is not on their website as a download nor is the complaints procedure available to look at on line.

This is not good practice as in the end I have had to ask the practice manager for the complaint form and many people may feel less likely to complain if they have to speak to anyone in authority. Perhaps something for the Health Board to look at.

I know this relates to the local health board but I would like other professionals from some of the umbrella bodies to chip in their thoughts either on a national basis or what happens in their local area?

Response from NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Dear FMC,

Patients should have access to healthcare in an appropriate timescale. We are acutely aware that workload in general practice is increasing and this impacts on waiting times. Many factors affect waiting times including people living longer with more complex diseases, the aging population and patients failing to attend appointments.

GPs are not heath board employees, they are contracted to provide the service under the terms of the General Medical Services contract. As part of that contract and the Quality and Outcomes framework, practices will be undertaking a review of their access arrangements for 2014 – 2015 and it is hoped that this will improve access times for patients.

Meanwhile, if patients have issues we would encourage them to talk to their practice manager and I am sure they will accommodate the needs of all patients appropriately.

Thank you very much for raising this, we all want to improve this for patients.

Kind regards

The Primary Care Management Team

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Updates, changes and questions related to this story