"Lerwick Health Centre"

About: Lerwick Health Centre

(as the patient),

I called the appointment line at 08: 45 on a Wednesday for an appointment to see a GP. I was told that there were no appointments for that day but I could come to the emergency clinic in the afternoon or come to the walk in clinic on Friday as there were no appointments on Thursday either. I thanked the receptionist for her help and hung up.

I then called back at 09: 15 to ask if I could have a telephone appointment to which the receptionist told me that this would only be an advice call and would not lead to an appointment. I then asked what the health Centre would class as an emergency in order to come to the emergency clinic as I cannot afford to take time off work to sit for over an hour in a walk in clinic. The receptionist, who was very helpful, informed me that the emergency clinic was for patients who thought that they couldn't wait for the walk in clinic or a booked appointment.

The second receptionist then told me that it would be two weeks before a bookable appointment was available. Although all of this information was very helpful it left me wondering how I could see a GP as I fell that my idea of an emergency and someone else's idea of an emergency are two different things.

I wondered whether the GP would think me silly for using up an appointment for something that the GP would not deem as an emergency. I think this needs to clarified at point of phone call.

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Response from Corporate Services Manager/Complaints Officer, Chief Executive's Department, NHS Shetland

Thank you for your feedback. The Emergency Clinic should be for acute medical problems, where there is a significant risk of deterioration if left 24-48 hours and where seeing a clinician quickly would make a difference to the outcome. As an example, the GPs thought the following explanation would be helpful - a bad back which has been bad for 2 weeks and is not worsening on a daily basis is not an emergency; whereas a bad back which is worsening daily, is uncontrolled by over the counter painkillers and disabling the patient would be appropriate for an emergency surgery attendance. I hope this information is useful to you.

Lisa Sutherland, Service Manager for Primary Care

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