GP appointment system doesn't work

Our local practice has now opted for an appointment system (to see the GP), which sounds wonderful until you wake up one morning, in pain and need of advice.  You reach for the phone (if you are lucky enough to own one) and call the surgery.  You may get through if you hold on the line for long enough, at which point you ask for an appointment with your GP.  Once the chuckles have died down you are told there is nothing free for days on end!

True, if it were an emergency, they may offer another option but when you have been brought up to respect peoples time you tend not to class your illness as an emergency (unless it is clearly life threatening).  So now what do you do?  Well if you are old and fragile, living alone, you will start to worry which makes your illness feel a thousand times worse.

GP Appointment system You could go private but this is way beyond your means (and income) so you soldier on the best you can.  When the day of your appointment comes youre too ill to visit the doctor. So what may well have been only a minor illness now becomes a much more serious condition.

But hold on one moment; how much time and money is really being saved here?  Our GPs. don't appear to work long hours, at least their surgery times don't suggest this.  Previously their surgeries were packed with patients but now, since some have an appointment system, how many patients do they actually see?

Do many languish at home in need of the help which is now so difficult to find?  More importantly does anyone really care?  Perhaps we could be forgiven for thinking that medication was fast becoming a rich man's privilege, as for the rest of us what do we do for treatment?

Share on Google Plus

Comments from visitors

Post a comment

Enter your comments in the space below.

Name or nickname

Page: 1 2 3

We have to phone our gp receptionist, tell her what's wrong and then wait for gp
to call us back. He then makes diagnosis over phone deciding whether to see us! I phoned up with ongoing severe back pain and told I had had it so long would have to live with it. In the end I paid to see a specialist who was brilliant and arranged for an MRI scan in a different area. I now would only bother to call gp if I was desperate.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

jay - 3-Jan-14 00:55

I tried to change GPs recently to one that I cycle past every day to go to work. I went in and asked if they were taking new patients. "It depends where you live". Oh that's fine I said not far away. "Out of our area" she replied. My house is just under 3 miles away. How is that "out of area" I asked. "Ah well it's for GP visits. It's too far". I asked if they do GP visits and a smile came over the receptionists face. "No we send you to a walk in centre, instead." It's amazing there is a system to choose which hospital you are sent to but you can't choose a GP.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Fred E - 25-Nov-13 14:36

Vets are better...., Thats because you are paying through the nose at a vets but not at the doctors. If you want the same treatment as your cat gets, Go private.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Jethro - 25-Nov-13 14:27

Why does my cat get a better service at the Vet's than I do at my GP's?

If my cat is ill I simply take him to our local vet and he is seen more or less immediately, with hardly any waiting, no silly appointment system; and certainly no bureaucratic administrator blocking you from medical care.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Vets are better than GPs - 25-Nov-13 13:57

I am sick to death of holding on in a queue to be told there are no appointments and that I will have to ring again the next morning at 8am, but there is no guarantee I will get one then! My daughter is 12 years old is in agony with tonsilitis and I can't get an appointment, I know what the problem is as she has had it twice this year, so i asked can i get a repeat prescription for the antibiotic? I was told they can't do this she would need to see a doctor!! Help I am becoming demented as this is what I have been trying to do, I have been told I can go to a call in center miles away, so they are suggesting I go to the hospital? No the call in center (Ormskirk hospital)there I will be seen by a nurse who will decide if my daughter needs to see the doctor. Aarr you can now see my frustration I know what she needs but this is now going to cost the NHS even more money not to mention myself as I now have to go miles out of my way and pay for parking which I can't afford to be told I need to see a doctor which I already know and be given the same antibiotics taken before. To infuriate me even more the receptionist through in the comment that they have now been privatized for 2 weeks,I asked is this why we can't get an appointment do you no longer see NHS patients?she said she didn't know what I was asking but went on to say how she had spoke to 25 people this morning to explain they couldn't have an appointment, I would love to know how as I spent 25 mins just trying to get through, in this time she had given away all the available appointments and spoke to 25 others like myself! She finished by saying how she understands my frustration but there is nothing she can do. I feel let down and do not use the doctors often, this system is not working and I feel annoyed that they are willing to let my daughter suffer like this, what do we pay our national insurance for?


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Steph Lovatt - 3-Apr-13 09:51

Isobel; what exactly are you saying isn't true? You have described the system where you work but do you know for a fact that ALL surgeries run the same type of system? I really don't think they do.

There have been many complaints from patients whose surgeries run the system of only making appointments for the same day, no advance appointments; so if you can't get an appointment when you ring first thing one morning you have to wait until the next day and try again.

And, let's face it, doctors these days are paid extortionate amounts of money and I think most of us feel that we should be entitled to better service, including being able to see a doctor at the weekend or during the night if it's an emergency.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

grumpyoldwoman - 1-Sep-12 18:19

This is simply not true. At the doctor's surgery where I work, we have a very clear appointments system:

- Routine appointment
If you have an ongoing condition which you see the doctor about regularly (diabetes, athsma, high blood pressure) or have a problem which you've been experiencing for a while but isn't too serious (verrucas, hypermobility, period cramps) then you only need a routine appointment. The waiting time for a routine appointment is about 2 weeks.

- Urgent appointment
If it is urgent for the day (and by urgent we do NOT mean that you must be dying in order to get seen, but there must be a reason why you can't wait for a standard appointment (infection, chronic pain, suicidal thoughts) then we send an instant message down to the doctor explaining the patient's symptoms. The doctor then triages all the 'urgent' appointment requests based on how serious the medical problem is (e.g. pregnant woman with bleeding is viewed as more serious than tonsillitis) and then we call the patients back one by one asking them to come down to a surgery at specific times allotted by the GP.

- Semi-urgent appointment
If it is not necessarily urgent for the day, but the patient also feels they cannot wait for a routine appointment, then we send a paper message down to the doctor with details of the patient's symptoms and a request for an appointment within a certain length of time (depending on the problem) e.g. "Mrs Smith has found lump in breast, please can you give her an appointment in the next 5 days?" We then ask the patients to give us 24 hours for the doctor triages all their paper messages for the day, and we call them back as soon as possible to let them know of a date and time when the doctor can see them.

^^ I'd say that's a pretty efficient system actually. But the problem lies in the fact that people want to be able to phone up whenever they feel like it, specify a time and a date which suits them (usually at short notice) with a doctor of their choice, and then don't like it when we start asking questions about their symptoms or talking about messages/triages.

As for those moaning about the doctors running late... here is what I say to the patients who start giving me abuse because their GP is not on time: Imagine that it's your parent, spouse or child in with the doctor and they're having the news broken to them that they have cancer. Would you expect the doctor to shoo your distraught family member out of the room when their 10 minutes are up, even if all their questions have not been answered? If the answer is no, then quit moaning! No one likes hanging around but it's just one of those things that everyone experiences at one point or another, even the GPs themselves when they go to see their own doctor.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Isobel - 1-Sep-12 16:58

Fleetwood Lancashire waiting time to see a doctor 2wks, No options receptionist not very helpful lump in my rib cage, bottom of my spine hurts not feeling so good, I think this system stinks I remember back in 1960 when my dad was ill Dr said get yourself out of bed get to work you'll feel better and he died 24 hrs latter diabetes, up side to that story, there was no waiting time. Down side with the fancy dressing removed, they didn't give a rats t then either.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

mel - 22-Jun-12 09:34

The idea of paying £25 per annum is not new. One GP practice in the West Midlands tried this some 30 years ago - the idea was that one member of the family would pay to be a private patient whilst the rest of the family were NHS patients. At the time there was nothing illegal about it and it seemed quite good value - today £25 would probably be around £85 and the GPs income would be similar to his NHS income. Not sure how popular the idea would be in the NHS.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Bob Kingfisher - 27-Jun-11 22:04

Everyone should pay a £25 fee to see a GP. And complain if the GP does not give them value for money. the average GP consultation lasts 10 minutes. The GP would earn £150 an hour - more than enough for the the level of skill provided. GPs must provide value for money - direct value.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Pay up - 26-Jun-11 17:02

I wonder why we tolerate a situation in this country where we cannot be seen by a GP with ease on the same day and within a few hours of making the request. Yes, you are faced with a tricky telephone system, press button B and get change, a tricky telephonist who yes seems quite surprised that you expect to see the doctor of your choice that fortnight let alone the same week or same day. Sometimes one hits lucky and see your on GP.

The answer lies in the way general practice is now run and funded. No longer is there a national control on the number of GPs working - the Medical Practices Committee has been abolished. A budget is now paid to each practice to pay GP salaries and practice running costs. It is inevitable therefore that GPs will find the most economic way of running their practices rather than put patients first. To be fair many practices offer an excellent service but clearly there are still those that don't (An ex-NHS GP Practice Manager now rertired


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Bob Kingfisher - 23-Jun-11 20:40

I visited the walk in centre in my local town recently it was brilliant. No Bolshy notices stuck around the place telling me what I should or should not do as a patient. I think walk in centres are the way forward, for patient & medic.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Boblet - 27-May-11 11:01

Training camp for NHS doctor's surgery administrative staff


Big Brother overseeing healthy nation



 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

No Appointment Today! my baby& - 27-May-11 10:28

It's not acceptable for a patient to be late or miss an appointment without prior notice but how is it ok for your doctor to be late in seeing you? My doctor saw me 25 minutes after my appointment was due and made me late for work. The patient isn't allowed to be late but doctors are?


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Poorly - 27-May-11 10:06

I normally only visit the GP for my children, with the duty doctor calling me back if receptionists thinks its an emergency. Its always worked for me that way and Im pleased with it. If I do need to see the doctor I normally get an appt within 5 days so I cant complain. On the over hand, my mums OLD surgery is tripe!! Phone in morning for same day appt, by the time you get through the are all gone! Or make an appt for 2 weeks time if you can wait! She has now changed and very happy that she can see a doc on same day if need be or usually within a few days.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

ashford Beauty - 6-May-11 18:22

Without doubt the NHS GP appointment system is failing the general public. Why does it take days to get in to seek a doctor? My health centre (in a small village) has 4 doctors, I have tried for 4 days to get an appointment but am constantly being told there is none available and for one doctor I was told no apointments have been released for her yet this week???

Its a shocking system, Health centre managers and staff are often disinterested and appear not to be looking how to improve the system.
I have observed our health centre and have noticed that it has never been filled and an average of 8-12 people visit in any 2 hour period with an avaerage time with the doctor being 3 minutes.

Doctors (GP's) earning in and around £90K + per year should be doing more... and for those GP's who comment about the time spent training etc, that is totally irrelevant... you chose to do the job and know what it entails and you get very well paid once qualified.

The solution is to revert to the 0900 - 1800 opening times and treat everyone who comes through the doors during that time... Do away with appointments all but for the most routine and really minor issues... the NHS is in a poor state, the GP's appointments are nothing more than scandalous... I hate to say it... it won't change!


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Tried-email-system-telephone-a - 28-Apr-11 11:11

to the comment made by GP London...what a pretentious idiot to write what you have...quite typical of the patronising approach many UK physicians take and I am so glad I live in the USA for my healthj care... loser GP's!


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

expat_2011 - 20-Feb-11 23:01

Very frustrated by the fact that I cannot get a routine appointment to see a doctor for eight days. Why don't they have walk-in centres staffed by fully qualified GPs. When we were over in Spain recently my wife had a problem with her neck. We went to the local health centre on a Sunday morning and she saw a doctor within ten minutes! He gave her a prescription and she quickly got better with the medication. Puts the UK to shame!


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

Juande - 5-Nov-10 15:03

angry daughter, you can start making a noise, and you have today and tomorrow to do it!

If you ring NHS direct they will give you medical advice about your mum and they may be able to tell you if you have the right to demand an appointment for the next day at the surgery.

If they can't help much and say you can't demand an appoinment (or don't know) you can try ringing the out of hours service. (It should be on your sugery's answering machine message while they are shut.) Tell them about your mother, and if you lay it on a bit thick and say you are really worried they will send out paramedics. Tell them as well that you've been trying to book an appoinment for two weeks!

Hope you get a good result!


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

grumpyoldwoman - 29-Aug-10 09:20

My Mother's doctor runs a worse system. You can only book an appointment for that day. So as soon as the line opens they are engaged and by the time you get through the appointments are gone. My mother has now been trying to get an appointment for two weeks for a minor problem. She has been in pain for over three weeks. Stupid system.


 Vote for this commentVote against this commentClick to rate Report This Report

angry daughter - 28-Aug-10 05:06

Page: 1 2 3


Enter email to receive updates:RSS Feed