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Lack of GP appts forces patients to A&E

15 December 2011

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A meagre 3% of patients favour booking GP appointments online with the vast majority still booking by phone.

The GP Patient Survey found almost two in ten patients said it is “not easy” to speak to someone at their GP surgery.

One in eight patients were forced to call their GP more than once to schedule a convenient appointment with just under one in ten failing to make an appointment at all.

Of these patients, 12% said they were prevented from booking an appointment due to their GP’s reluctance to book ahead and 8% had to visit A&E instead.

Just over a third of patients saw or spoke to a GP or nurse on the day they initially contacted the practice, while a third of patients had to wait “a few days”.

More than one in ten patients (13%) had to wait a week to see or speak to someone from their GP surgery.

However, 93% found their appointment time “convenient” and 48% found it “very convenient”.

The majority of patient surveyed (61%) said they are happy with the time spent waiting for appointments, but 8% feel they have to wait “far too long”.

On the whole, patients are also satisfied with the opening hours of their GP surgery.

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Re comment below [1st comment at bottom – Ed], DNAs are a problem throughout any system where booking in advance is necessary. It’s made worse with increasing intervals between making and getting the appointment and when the process of getting an appointment is difficult. If you could offer an appointment immediately this would cut “failures to turn up” to practically zero. It’s not about managing expectations, it’s about managing a service efficiently and one which does the job it is paid to do. My GP offers a system where we have to ring at 8am for an appointment 2 working days later. No advance bookings can be made unless they are made with the practitioner within an appointment. Somewhere between 8.15-8.25am all routine appointments are gone and you either have to convince an admin clerk that your symptioms constitute an emergency or wait til 8am the next day to try and get through again. They do not work evenings and weekends, there is no web-booking service and none of their appointments are convenient, let alone very convenient, as I work full time. Although I do not go to A&E, I do use the OoH services as it is easier to get through and see a locum on
rotation rather than my own GP” – LC, Wales

“We have to wait to see our dentist, osteo, bank manager, to arrange a mortgage, even in a queue at Tesco’s (unless we buy online). If only they knew what goes on when patients aren’t in front of doctors – scripts, home visits, filling in forms for government departments to TRY their best for their patients – do I go on?” – Christine Andrew, Surrey

“What is far too long? I had a patient complaint from one person who was not satisfied with being given an appointment within two hours and did not see why she should have to wait that long? Patient expectation needs managing the single biggest problem for access remains wasted appointments from those who make then fail to attend appts” – Name and address withheld