"GP appointment system not user friendly"

About: Central Lancashire PCT

(as the patient),

I booked an induction session at a gym as I felt I needed to increase my current level of physical activity and improve my fitness. Unfortunately at that induction my blood pressure was deemed too high by the instructor for me to use the exercise equipment and I was advised to book an appointment with my GP to see if I needed any medical treatment or advice before using the gym facilities. The gym instructor wrote the blood pressure readings down for me to take to the GP for consideration.

As the surgery was open on Saturday morning (and I work full time out of area from my GP surgery) I decided to visit the surgery to either make an appointment or get some advice based on my BP readings. There were only 2 cars in the patient’s car park and the surgery looked very quiet. However, when I tried to make and appoint I was told all the appointments for Saturday had been taken up - so I asked for an appointment the following week but was told that all routine appointments for the following week had been taken - I therefore requested an appointment for the week after that - I was then told that I was unable to book a routine appointment more than one week in advance - the reason for this was given as 'if people book appointments too far in advance they just don't turn up for them'.

I then asked what was going to be the best way of getting an appointment with one of the Drs and was advised that I would have to ring up on Monday morning and book an 'urgent' appointment slot. This seemed strange to me as I didn't consider my situation as 'urgent' and I didn't want to take up an urgent appointment that someone who was really poorly may need - the whole situation felt like an episode from 'Little Britain' - it certainly wasn't customer focused and I suspect by the time I left the surgery my blood pressure was higher than it was when I arrived.

If a shop or other service industry operated in this manner I doubt whether anyone would opt to use their services and as a consequence they would go out of business. I am bringing this to your attention in the hope that some consideration may be given to improving access to a Dr particularly for people like myself who are interested in looking after their health rather than waiting for serious conditions to develop and who are committed to full-time employment.

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