"Lerwick Doctors Practice"

About: Lerwick Health Centre

(as the patient),

I do not want to disparage any of the individual reception staff, doctors or nurses working in Lerwick Doctors Practice. However, the way the practice is managed and run leaves much to be desired.

The system for making appointments and being seen by doctors seems to change every year or so, and becomes progressively less clear to understand. It is nigh-on impossible to book advance appointments with a specified doctor, while the default setting in many cases now seems to be asking patients to turn up to 'walk-in clinics'.

In my experience, and that of my 89-year-old grandmother, this means turning up with dozens of other patients, many of whom face a wait of 90 minutes or more to be seen. I sat waiting patiently for over two hours, and when I was finally seen at 4.50pm was told by the doctor that I'd have to be quick, as the practice was closing at 5pm and I had to be out the door by then.

This is pretty shoddy, and thankfully not an experience faced by other practices in Shetland. The walk-in clinics may make marginally better use of doctors' time, but what about the elderly people forced to wait hours, or people of working age taking time away from their job to see a GP?

A 30-minute wait is one thing, but a whole afternoon is simply unacceptable. I believe that NHS Shetland owes it to its Lerwick-registered patients to sort this mess out.

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Response from Carolyn Hand, Corporate Services Manager/Complaints Officer, Chief Executive's Department, NHS Shetland We are preparing to make a change

I am sorry that the service in this instance did not meet your expectations. We are continually striving to improve the experience for Lerwick Health Centre patients, and we know that the way appointments were allocated in the past did not suit everybody. Following your comments and those we have received in recent months, we will relook at the appointment system to look at how we can best meet everyone’s needs and reduce the time people have to wait.

Lisa Sutherland, Service Manager Primary Care

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Update posted by A B (the patient)

I'm sad to say that, six months on, my experiences at Lerwick Health Centre have not improved.

Again I stress that I have no complaint with the service from the doctor I have seen, or the helpful and considerate attitude of the practice's reception staff. But these walk-in clinics are a waste of people's time.

The last time I went to be seen, I turned up for the 2pm clinic to find over 20 people in the waiting area, and sat along with most of them for over two hours before being seen by a doctor. There just has to be a better appointments system out there than this.

It is not fair to expect people of working age, with busy family lives and jobs, or indeed elderly/infirm people, to sit around for such a length of time before seeing a GP. Again I would plead with NHS Shetland to do something to sort this out.