"Getting an appointment with my GP in Sidmouth"

About: Devon PCT

(as the patient),

Today I phoned Sidmouth health centre to see a doctor for a routine appointment.

I was told that as my GP only worked on Fridays, I could not have an appointment until 11th November. I am on holiday then, so the first time I could see my GP was 25th November.

I asked if I could see another doctor and was told no, I had to wait to see my own GP. I do not believe this to be the case, and I do not believe I should wait 5 weeks to see my own GP.

If I am registered, through no choice of my own, with a GP who only works 1 day a week, there has to be an alternative, without going through the emergency duty doctor system.

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Response from NHS Devon

NHS Devon has followed this up with the practice who have confirmed that:

If a patient’s own GP is on leave they would be offered an appointment with:-

1. their own GP on their return, if not soon enough then,

2. an assistant or visiting GP or

3. an appointment with either Dr Stuart Livingston or Dr Amie Cooper

4. if none of the above is suitable the patient would be offered a phone call from the doctor covering their GP who would triage the call and book them the next available appointment with any GP.

5. It is practice policy that if they are unable to offer a suitable appointment they will always offer the patient a telephone consultation with a GP.

It appears that there has been some kind of misunderstanding between the patient the practice that could be resolved if the patient wanted to contact the practice directly to arrange another appointment. If the patient does not wish to contact the practice about this but wanted to escalate, they can go through the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who will discuss with the practice on their behalf, but I would suggest that the patient can easily resolve this between themselves and the practice and ensure that there is clearer communication.

We regret that the patient encountered a problem when booking their appointment and hope that they do not encounter any problems in the future.

Keri Ross

Deputy Primary Care Manager

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Update posted by helpless (the patient)

There has been no misunderstanding between the patient and the receptionists.

I was told quite clearly that I could not see another doctor.

This is not the first time this has happened.

What the surgery fails to address is that many people work in an environment were they cannot take phone calls or have mobile phones with them at work.

It is utterly useless offering a doctors phone call if someone cannot use the phone at work. I cannot take time off work to await a phone call from a GP in a non urgent situation. I just can't afford it and nor can many others. If I was really I'll and it was an emergency, of course I would but my complaint is about non urgent situations and having to wait over 3 weeks to see a doctor for a routine appointment.

The reception staff are often obstructive and will not help. They do not realise that many of us cannot wait in all day at the end of a phone..

I feel this reply is inadequate and does not address the real issue.

Response from NHS Devon

We are very sorry that you are not happy with our response and we are keen to resolve this with you.

Following your initial comment about your experience in getting an appointment with the practice, NHS Devon followed this up with the practice. The practice confirmed that they do have a number of options available to patients with regards to booking appointments and accessing a GP.

If this is still not to your satisfaction or doesn’t help to resolve your concerns, I would suggest that this is something that needs to be dealt with either directly with the practice, or with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) as more detail about the situation and your specific individual needs for accessing a GP will be required, which cannot be dealt with in this forum. PALS is a confidential service for patients and they will deal directly with you, and the practice if requested. The concern you have raised sounds like something that does need to be looked at in more detail, but either the practice or the PALS team will be able to do this.

You do have the choice to contact your GP Surgery directly to either enquire, comment or complain about the service. The practice believe that they are doing what they can to meet the needs of their patients, but I am sure would be more than willing to address any issues with their appointment system or any areas that may be identified as training needs for staff, once they are aware of your specific concerns.

If you wish to use the PALS service, to act on your behalf, they can be contacted on 0845 111 0080 or 01392 267665. You can also find more information about the PALS service through the NHS Devon website here http://www.devonpct.nhs.uk/PALS/PALS.aspx

Keri Ross

Deputy Primary Care Manager

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