GPs “lot­tery”

Pa­tients say get­ting one is like win­ning the lot­tery

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Edel Ke­nealy

Get­ting a GP ap­point­ment in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang within a week of tele­phon­ing is akin to win­ning the lot­tery, pa­tients have said.

Res­i­dents in both towns say they have been forced to wait up to three weeks for treat­ment of ail­ments which are not con­sid­ered ur­gent.

Get­ting a GP ap­point­ment in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang within a week of tele­phon­ing is akin to win­ning the lot­tery, pa­tients have said.

Res­i­dents in both towns say they have been forced to wait up to three weeks for treat­ment of ail­ments which are not con­sid­ered ur­gent.

And whilst doc­tors surg­eries across the area are adopt­ing dif­fer­ent book­ing sys­tems, dozens of peo­ple ar­gue they are not work­ing.

The most pop­u­lar com­plaint is be­ing asked to call at 8.30am to book an ap­point­ment, with lo­cals com­plain­ing it is pot luck if you get through.

Stephen Al­lan at­tends North Av­enue Doc­tors Surgery in Cam­bus­lang and says the re­quired 8.30am tele­phone call is pun­ish­ing those who work and has lead to oth­ers abus­ing the emer­gency ap­point­ment sys­tem.

He said: “I’m be­ing told you need to call at 8.30am. The prob­lem is every­one is calling at 8.30am and I’m be­hind the wheel driv­ing to work.

“They are us­ing the ex­cuse that peo­ple aren’t keep­ing ap­point­ments... but they have cre­ated the prob­lem.

“Peo­ple are ask­ing for an ap­point­ment and get­ting one for two or three weeks time. Re­al­is­ing that’s rub­bish, they phone at 8.30am, they are get­ting an ur­gent ap­point­ment and not can­celling the one in two or three weeks time.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple are phon­ing for ur­gent things, but what you are get­ting is peo­ple calling at 8.30am be­cause they are not will­ing to wait that long.”

Mr Al­lan is not alone in his ex­pe­ri­ence, with sev­eral peo­ple tak­ing to so­cial me­dia to voice their frus­tra­tion at the sys­tems used at a num­ber of surg­eries in­clud­ing Ruther­glen Pri­mary Care Cen­tre and Craigal­lian Med­i­cal Prac­tice.

Speak­ing on the All About Cam­bus­lang Face­book page, one wo­man said she called her surgery at 8.30am but it took 45 min­utes to get through.

A sec­ond wo­man said she had to walk to the doc­tors surgery be­cause she was un­able to get an answer on the tele­phone.

In Ruther­glen older pa­tients say they have felt pres­sured to book rou­tine ap­point­ments on­line, some­thing one pen­sioner said he was not com­fort­able do­ing.

The is­sue was also raised at a re­cent meet­ing of the Burn­side Community Coun­cil.

Dr Keith McIn­tyre, vice chair­man of the La­nark­shire Lo­cal Med­i­cal Com­mit­tee and a GP at North Av­enue Prac­tice in Cam­bus­lang, said: “We un­der­stand the frus­tra­tions some pa­tients may feel on oc­ca­sions while ac­cess­ing their GP surgery.

“Na­tion­ally GP prac­tices are fac­ing re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion chal­lenges, re­sult­ing in many prac­tices find­ing it dif­fi­cult to pro­vide cover for all their avail­able ap­point­ment slots.

“De­spite this, all prac­tices con­tinue to make pa­tient ac­cess to ap­point­ments a pri­or­ity and en­able them to book ap­point­ments through a range of

I’m told you need to call at 8.30am. Every­one’s calling at 8.30am

medi­ums such as tele­phone, at the re­cep­tion and on­line.

“Many prac­tices are also ex­plor­ing new mod­els of care – such as tele­phone ap­point­ments – which aim to im­prove the ser­vice they pro­vide to pa­tients and op­ti­mise prac­tice re­sources.

“All prac­tices will also have sys­tems in place which will en­able a pa­tient who re­quires an ur­gent ap­point­ment, to be seen on the same day.”

Dr McIn­tyre also en­cour­aged peo­ple to think about their health prob­lems and other ser­vices which are more suited to treat­ing them such as a den­tist, phar­ma­cist or op­ti­cian, rather than a GP. Peo­ple who are un­sure about this can seek ad­vice by calling NHS 24, or their prac­tice.

Pa­tients who have spe­cific con­cerns about their GP prac­tice should make di­rect con­tact with their prac­tice.

Con­cerns Pa­tients at GP prac­tices such as North Av­enue in Cam­bus­lang or Ruther­glen Pri­mary Care Cen­tre (pic­tured) say get­ting an ap­point­ment is like a lot­tery

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