Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic getting a GP appointment could be frustrating but with a little perseverance at 8am usually a face to face appointment could be obtained the same day and non urgent appointments could be arranged within a week or two. During the height of the pandemic patients appreciated that this couldn’t happen. GPs needed to keep themselves and their patients safe so they stayed behind closed doors and went online, much the same as the rest of us. However, a lot of our lives have returned to normal; offices have reopened; shops, restaurants and bars are welcoming their customers; schools, colleges and universities are seeing their students face to face but the GP surgery doors remains, for the most part seem to the outward facing world, closed. It can take weeks to get an appointment when you need one and we don’t know why.
In September 2021 ITV reported on the issue. A GP listed various reasons for the feeling that GPs are no longer accessible to include doctors being overworked due to the pandemic; considerably more enquiries coming into the practice (as many as 25% more than pre pandemic), backlogs created by the pandemic and GPs taking a large role in the administration of Covid 19 vaccines. GPs are reported to be as frustrated with the situation as patients.
At Graystons many of our client’s express their frustration at being unable to get an appointment with their GP. The article prepared by ITV quotes 57% of GP appointments being back to face to face compared to 80% before the pandemic. To our clients it feels far less than the figure quoted when elderly patients are struggling to complete an e-consult; phone calls to surgeries go unanswered and calls made to GPs aren’t returned.
At the moment we hear a lot about problems being able to see a GP and raise health concerns. We hear it from clients; from our family and friends; on the news and on social media but the real concern is that whilst we can all see that there is a problem we can’t see a solution or an end. The Department of Health have said flatly that GPs need to see more patients but for the reasons given above GPs practices are not able to meet demand. The Department of Health have also pledged more money to expand GP capacity and deliver a ‘world class service’. Time will tell and we can all hope that it works but for now the patients don’t feel that they are being given a ‘world class service’.
Whilst the service remains as it is it is likely that problems will occur; patients will fall through the cracks; conditions will get missed and there will be delays in diagnosis, treatment and care which will often result in a worse outcome.
If you are concerned that you have suffered as a consequence of your GP service please contact us and one of our experienced team would be pleased to discuss your concerns with you