"Difficulty in getting an appointment at my surgery"

About: Sheffield PCT

(as the patient),

The Medical Centre Greenhill used to be really good, but I feel as it has gone down massively in the last year.

- It seems to me that non urgent waiting time for an appointment is around a month with the popular doctors.

- They introduced an online booking system for booking appointments in which ALL the appointments were released online at the same time as the phones opened at 8.15am so as to give everyone an equal chance of getting an appointment, but now they no longer release the appointments online properly and often not at all. I use the online service and I often find myself waiting, refreshing the page for on the day appointments to appear (which they often no longer do), whilst in the mean time they are being given away to those who queue on the phone on the 0845 number (premium rate to many providers eg Talk Talk).

- From my experience the Online EMIS system often doesn't work and when it doesn't it directs you to a back up service from which you're supposed to be able to book apppointments but which is now no more than a blank page with a header!

- The most popular doctors are booking up the appointments I understand they're supposed to save specifically for release on the day, in surgery instead now for repeat patient visits, so getting an appointment with a doctor of your choice, especially on the day, can be near impossible as the number of appointments available at short notice seems to have reduced compared to when the new on the day service was introduced. See my comment above about some doctors non urgent appointments being booked up a month in advance.

- The online repeat prescription service no longer works due to an "upgraded" computer service

- I believe the triage system can be dangerous without a face to face consultation. A member of my family rang up for triage and when rung back was told by the doctor they were already overbooked that day and the best they could do was offer an appointment the following day. Later that day the same member of my family had to be taken to causalty and was admitted as an emergency with a potentially dangerous condition and spent nearly a week in hospital.

- I have found some of the trainee of doctors hold surgery on their own and often you're passed off to these instead of the doctor of your choice

- I get the impression that one of the receptionists they have is not very good, to the point where I feel it necessary to put to the phone down and ring another day if they are answering the phone as I I feel I'm not going to get an appropriate appointment or answer to suit me without some haggling, which is something you can do without when you're ill.

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Responses

Response from Hallam and South Consortia (HASC)

Dear Greenhill Patient. Many thanks for your comments posted through the Patient Opinion website.

The ‘triage system’ was introduced to enable those patients who felt that they needed to be seen on the same day would have the opportunity to speak to a GP. If the GP then deemed it necessary they would be brought in for an appointment. Both on the day appointments and 48 hour appointments are not required to be with Doctor of Choice. If the condition is urgent enough to be within this timescale, the priority is to be seen by any GP on that day.

Non urgent appointments, ie for an ongoing condition or review can be booked with a GP of choice between 2 and 6 weeks in advance.

This may have not been possible recently for certain GP’s as there has been some reduction in sessions that certain Partners work and also one of the Partner’s has had to attend Jury Service for 3 weeks just prior to the Christmas break.

We experienced some problems with the EMIS online booking system when we upgraded our computer system, but we have been assured by EMIS that this has been resolved and we have received no other complaint.

Unfortunately the online Prescription service was not available on the upgraded system. However in November we provided a new service that enables patients to order their repeat prescriptions on line via our website. This is proving to be a very popular service with our patients.

As we are a Training Practice, our GP Registrars are fully qualified Doctors when they come to us, therefore they see patients on their own, but are fully debriefed at the end of every clinic by one of our Partners.

Our Receptionists are experienced members of the team and have all undergone Customer Care Training to a high standard. Their training needs are constantly being updated and we hold training sessions regularly at the Surgery.

We thank you for your comments made via the Patient Opinion Website and we hope that this has addressed some of your concerns. However should you wish to discuss this further, please contact the surgery and speak to the Practice Manager.