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GP Surgeries - What is your experience like?

Scotrail314209

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1 Feb 2017
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1,571
Hi,

I'm curious as to how good an experience forum members have had with GP surgeries. Mines has been relatively good even throughout the pandemic, that's if I can get through to get an appointment. Does anyone else struggle to actually get through to the Receptionist let alone get an appointment?

Also, do you think the situation with GP's has worsened during COVID and that now that restrictions are gone they should be open fully.

My GP is still doing phone appointments, with only emergency appointments being done in person. Even then, you can't go to the waiting room and have to wait outside, not great in the colder weather.
 
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EveningStar

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11 Jan 2016
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148
Location
Alnmouth for Alnwick
My partner is the practice manager of a GP surgery and my eldest daughter is a GP, so I will speak for them. Over the last few years, GP surgeries are struggling to recruit GP's, so availability of appointments is difficult. When Covid hit, the sector nearly failed with a massive increase in workload, extra infection control measures and staff either off with Covid or self-isolating. Most evenings during lockdowns my partner would simply be crying, then next day face the day, as did everybody else, which is what pulled us through.

There is a perception that GP practices are now fully open, which is not the case as they must still tightly adhere to government restrictions on infection control. Of course, it suits the government to say we are free of restrictions while leaving healthcare facilities as a small print caveat. As a result, this is creating tensions between people thinking all restrictions are gone and reality, so there are incidents where people are being aggressive to staff, principally reception staff although doctors and nurses are getting some of the aggression.
 

Senex

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1 Apr 2014
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2,541
Location
York
My practice seems to have dropped back 60 or 70 years — no appointments in advance any more. If you want to see a GP you must join the 8am phone-queue and if you're lucky you'll get a slot for a phone appointment that day, no time specified. Very much like the old all go to the surgery first thing and just wait as long as necessary to be seen. But there does seem to be an element of right hand doesn't know etc. I had a routine blood-test recently, after which I got a text from the partner who'd checked the results saying I might care to have a word with my regular GP. Ring up to try and set up just that, to be told no advance phone appointments being made, only way to do it was ring at eight, ask if the person in question was on duty that day, and if he was, did he still have a slot for sometime in the day available. If no, then just try again another day ... So cledarly one of the partners didn't understand the system in use. (And yet this is the same practice that has just done a brilliantly-organised Saturday of flu vaccinations, where things couldn't have been handled better.) Chaos!
 

XAM2175

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Joined
8 Jun 2016
Messages
1,314
Location
Glasgow
I've had no bother with mine in north-west Glasgow, including a non-emergent in-person consultation around this time last year. They've been very prompt to answer the phone every time I've called, too.
 

Bayum

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21 Mar 2008
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2,461
Location
Leeds
Mine are fantastic. They’re still generally triaging over the phone but most who ask to see a GP in the triaging call are getting to see a GP.
 

Harold Hill

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Joined
24 Oct 2019
Messages
93
Location
Bristol
I've completely given up. Can never get through. As long as they keep repeating my 'scripts that suits me fine
 

Scotrail314209

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1 Feb 2017
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1,571
My practice seems to have dropped back 60 or 70 years — no appointments in advance any more. If you want to see a GP you must join the 8am phone-queue and if you're lucky you'll get a slot for a phone appointment that day, no time specified. Very much like the old all go to the surgery first thing and just wait as long as necessary to be seen. But there does seem to be an element of right hand doesn't know etc. I had a routine blood-test recently, after which I got a text from the partner who'd checked the results saying I might care to have a word with my regular GP. Ring up to try and set up just that, to be told no advance phone appointments being made, only way to do it was ring at eight, ask if the person in question was on duty that day, and if he was, did he still have a slot for sometime in the day available. If no, then just try again another day ... So cledarly one of the partners didn't understand the system in use. (And yet this is the same practice that has just done a brilliantly-organised Saturday of flu vaccinations, where things couldn't have been handled better.) Chaos!
I've completely given up. Can never get through. As long as they keep repeating my 'scripts that suits me fine
This is my main issue, the dastardly phones.

In total today it took me around 300 redials and 3 hours of trying before eventually giving up. My surgery makes everyone phone up at 8:30am.

Part of me was genuinely considering going to the hospital to get my issue looked at, but no doubt I'd end up being told to speak to my GP.
 

DelayRepay

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21 May 2011
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1,633
My problem is the phones too. When I've finally managed to speak to the GP they've been great (consultation was by phone but I was happy with that as there was no real need to see them in person).

But the phones... It takes dozens of attempts to speak to someone, and when you do you're given a telephone 'appointment' but it's not for a specific time. And if you miss the call, they don't ring back. They ask you to call the surgery so the whole thing starts again. I am starting to think they must own shares in British Telecom!
 

AlterEgo

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30 Dec 2008
Messages
13,514
Location
No longer here
My local GP surgery was seeing many patients for non-appointment issues like new registrations and appointment booking through a letter box. Yes, they made you shout through a letter box.

Like a bad Monty Python sketch. You had to rock up and then shout through the letter box. No, I am not making that up.
 
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Geezertronic

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14 Apr 2009
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3,934
Location
Birmingham
My previous GP Surgery was run by a practice manager who without any exaggeration is a complete *****. She has no compassion, no patient care, multiple complaints against her via the CQC (although she pretends she is the receptionist and blames them all of the time when in fact they are really nice), and of course as she is the practice manager, any complaints will be fed directly into her to suppress. She also acts as a triage and if she does not deem you worthy of an appointment, you do not get one. The Doctor at this practice is actually really nice, but getting to see her was a right mission.

As a family, we have now reluctantly changed GP Surgeries, but the experience of ringing up at 8am in the hope of an appointment is still present - the Livi appointments are helpful but sometimes they will refer back to the GP.

On serious occasions, we have paid £90 for a private doctors appointment where you get what you pay for, although the private GP cannot refer to the NHS
 

duncanp

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16 Aug 2012
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2,376
Location
Birmingham/Smethwick
My previous GP Surgery was run by a practice manager who without any exaggeration is a complete *****. She has no compassion, no patient care, multiple complaints against her via the CQC (although she pretends she is the receptionist and blames them all of the time when in fact they are really nice), and of course as she is the practice manager, any complaints will be fed directly into her to suppress. She also acts as a triage and if she does not deem you worthy of an appointment, you do not get one. The Doctor at this practice is actually really nice, but getting to see her was a right mission.

As a family, we have now reluctantly changed GP Surgeries, but the experience of ringing up at 8am in the hope of an appointment is still present - the Livi appointments are helpful but sometimes they will refer back to the GP.

On serious occasions, we have paid £90 for a private doctors appointment where you get what you pay for, although the private GP cannot refer to the NHS

My GP surgery allows you to book appointments online.

This saves joining the 8am telephone scramble, and having just checked now, the earliest appointment is on 29th September.

You have to go through telephone triage, but for some routine and non urgent cases I think this can be just as good as seeing a doctor in person.

As I live within 10 minutes walk of the surgery, for anything urgent I would go there in person, or speak to NHS 111 who can get you an appointment with an out of hours GP if necessary.

When I moved to London in 1991, I registered with a GP where you could not book an appointment. You just turned up at the surgery at certain specified times, joined the queue, and waited to be seen by the doctor.

I think all surgeries should adopt this system, at least partially.

I also think the government should change the way GPs are remunerated, so that the fixed payment for each patient on their books is reduced, and then a system of payments (by the NHS) for each appointment given introduced.

This is similar to the system in France, where you pay €25 to see a GP, and get all but €1 of that refunded by the government and your private insurance.

The idea is to give GPs a financial incentive to see patients, and perhaps if they were paid a lower amount for a telephone consultation and a higher amount for a face to face consultation, the number of face to face appointments available would mysteriously increase.
 

Scotrail314209

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1 Feb 2017
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I do think some GP's are much behind the times when it comes to not offering many online services.

I'm considering switching my GP to another one down the road for me, which allows appointments to be booked in advance as well as an eConsult service. My current one makes everyone phone up at 8:30am. It's currently 10:36am and the line is still engaged.

I do think this is one of the reasons why A&E departments are struggling. It seems to be human nature that if you can't get a GP appointment you should try your luck at a hospital.
 

SteveM70

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11 Jul 2018
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1,785
My GP surgery:

Positives:
- you can book appointments online and avoid the 8am phone call of doom

Negatives:
- around a 4 week wait for an appointment
- appointments are for phone consultations only, unless you get special permission by phoning the unterfuhrer on reception
 

alxndr

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3 Apr 2015
Messages
952
Pre-pandemic I always used to go in in-person to book appointments or collect test results as it was far easier than trying to get through on the telephone. At one point it wasn't uncommon to hear reports of there being 2+ hour waits on the phone, ending in getting cut off or told there were no appointments available. Going there in person was much more efficient.

With the pandemic that stopped being an option. I managed to get my regular injection appointments by phoning up at odd times, but seeing a GP meant calling at 8am. Only the first 20 people would be connected, the others would get an engaged tone. Even with an auto-redialler app on my phone I never managed to get through. They did open up an e-consult facility on their website and I managed to "discuss" a problem with them that way. I'm currently waiting to see if they will manage to get my test results to me after requesting them that way, last time I left them to send it to the specialist they didn't bother sending the most important bit...
 

PHILIPE

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14 Nov 2011
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Caerphilly
At our surgery patients are encouraged to use Econsult even to the extent of an instruction that if people have not got Internet Access or not familiar with it they must get a relative or carer to complete the form for them.
 

SteveM70

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11 Jul 2018
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1,785
My GP surgery:

Positives:
- you can book appointments online and avoid the 8am phone call of doom

Negatives:
- around a 4 week wait for an appointment
- appointments are for phone consultations only, unless you get special permission by phoning the unterfuhrer on reception

Update. Change of opinion. It’s a shambles.

Phone appointment booked for 715 yesterday morning, because I’m working during normal business hours. No call

Check the NHS app and notice my appointment is now 840 and with a different doctor. No call

Check the app again and it’s now a 915 appointment. No call

Two calls 30 seconds apart at 1115. No message left but I recognised the number, but couldn’t answer.

Happened to be passing the doctor’s this lunchtime and went to see what could be done. There then followed a conversation like something out of Kafka.

Me - not sure why, but the appointment time kept being changed and then the call came 4 hours late

Receptionist - we don’t do timed appointments

Me - but there were times in the NHS app

Her - we don’t use the NHS app

Me - but you are the NHS

Her - sorry. Not my problem

Me - the doctor rang 4 hours late and when I was working

Her - the notes say he rang several times during the morning

Me - do you want to see the calls log on my phone?

Her - please don’t accuse our doctors of lying

Me - can I have a face to face appointment please?

Her - only once you’ve had a phone consultation

Me - can I book one of them for a time I know I won’t be working?

Her - I’ve told you we don’t do timed appointments

Me - what happens if they ring and I can’t take the call?

Her - I’ll ring you to let you know

Me - do you realise how absurd this is?

Her - it’s because of covid
 

telstarbox

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23 Jul 2010
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5,293
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Wennington Crossovers
I have to coordinate my test results between the hospital and GP to get a repeat prescription. Hospital are great and the nurses are happy to communicate over email or phone. GP regularly lose the results and apparently can't accept emails despite using the NHS computer system, but said I could "print it out and bring it in".

The thing that gets me is that I'm fairly clued up and have the persistence to chase things up, but I'm sure more vulnerable patients will be falling through the cracks if my experience is common.
 

DanNCL

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17 Jul 2017
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Location
County Durham
Mine is appaling. Receptionists (who are ruder than some of the rudest revenue staff on the rail network) refuse point blank to book any appointments, be that telephone or in person, so you have to go via the online service, except to get the online service to let you have an appointment you practically have to pretend your head's hanging off otherwise it just tells you to go to a pharmacy. On the rare occasions you do manage to get an in person appointment, the receptionists have a dire attitude towards those who are unable to wear masks. On several occasions I have been shrieked at (literally) for not wearing one, forced not only to stand outside to wait but also have my appointment discussing confidential medical matters outside the building, and on one occasion when I dared to argue the point with the receptionist I was abruptly told "we don't accept the sunflower lanyard as anyone can buy one so you're probably lying". It's a shame there isn't any other GP practice that'll accept me as I'm not in their catchment areas, otherwise I'd have swtiched GP practice long ago.
 

davews

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24 Apr 2021
Messages
204
Location
Bracknell
Hang on a minute, my surgery know I have a prescription for nasal issues and can see point blank that I have hearing aids. That should be enough for them to accept my exemption.
I have only had two reasons to visit the surgery since March 2000. Last year's flu jab done outside on the surgery back steps. Then my annual blood tests (after a telephone review with their pharmacist, not the GP) when I was the only patient in the surgery at that time. I did not challenge the mask rule, wore one, but the nurse could see I was struggling immensely with my glasses steaming up. Touch wood I have not been ill, but the locked front gate is enough to tell me they aren't interested in patients.
 

Senex

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1 Apr 2014
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York
How long is it taking people to get appointments to see a practice nurse these days? I've just needed to make such an appointment (on hospital advice), and the earliest they could offer was a fortnight away. I know that woul dbe pretty good to get to see a GP nowadays, but are things generally just as bad for nurses and other staff as well?
 

nlogax

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29 May 2011
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London & Scotland
How long is it taking people to get appointments to see a practice nurse these days?

A few weeks here at least, I've been trying to get an appointment with the asthma clinic nurse. Quite a backlog of in-person appointments to get through. My 2020 appointment was on the phone which rather defeated the point.. y'know, physically recording lung capacity, etc.
 

gordonthemoron

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4 Sep 2006
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Milton Keynes
I've been to outpatients at the local hospital several times. I've also had a number of blood tests at my GP clinic. The GP has introduced an online triage system to decide if you need a face to face consultation or it can be done by phone, so I actually don't have to phone the GP anymore, which is great. I've had a handful of phone consultations and one face to face. Medication requests are done online too
 

Typhoon

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2 Nov 2017
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Kent
How long is it taking people to get appointments to see a practice nurse these days? I've just needed to make such an appointment (on hospital advice), and the earliest they could offer was a fortnight away. I know that woul dbe pretty good to get to see a GP nowadays, but are things generally just as bad for nurses and other staff as well?
I had a request to make a routine appointment some weeks ago but have put it as I have two imminent meetings that I need to attend and I didn't want to cancel the appointment. Rang up yesterday about 16:15, was in a long queue (awful music, annoying messages) for about 40 minutes, appointment this afternoon, could have been earlier but we have bus cancellations and I need to see one is on its way. Flu injection (normally November) booked at the same time. I was amazed. Normally a booking for a routine appointments is weeks in advance.
 

WelshBluebird

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14 Jan 2010
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4,096
I've not had to do anything with my GP recently but my partner is having a right mare with theirs.
You have to do an "econsult" first which is basically just a form on the website you fill in. They then take a couple of days to reply to that. If they think its worth organising a phone appointment then that will be somewhere between a few days and a week after they get back to you - and that is if they stick to the time and date they give (on one occasion they were supposed to phone my partner before work and just didn't - only phoning a few hours later whilst she was in the middle of a shift). And then if you can somehow convince them you need a face to face appointment that is likely to be a few weeks after the phone appointment - we've not got that far with them yet! So all in all probably a month or more for a face to face appointment for them right now. The online services sound like a great idea - but only if they are actually used well. In my partners experience they are just being used to add more "faff" to getting an actual useful appointment.
Though saying that, their GP's were useless before all of this anyway. Frequently messing up prescriptions etc so we aren't surprised. And I think it is that really, the good surgeries are probably still pretty good, but the ones that were poor beforehand have got even worse now!

edit - just an addition to this. For my partners latest query the GP's have taken two days to "respond" to the "econsult" my partner did. Except the response is that the doctors will respond by October 28th. That is even worse than what is has been before. More than two weeks just for a response to an online form (and obviously if my partner does need an appointment it will be however long after that repsonse). What on earth are these GP's playing at!!
 
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Tracked

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53.5440°N 1.1510°W
Had to contact mine recently, decided to do it via their online form mid-morning and they came back shortly after by text to advise I'd be contacted the following morning. They actually rang slightly early, did the necessary checks over the phone and decided that I'd need to come in to see them in person. Was there the same afternoon as the phonecall, could've gone earlier but it fitted round work to go when I did, confirmation was then sent through by text.

When I got there the waiting room had about 5 chairs extremely distant from each other - if the amount of people in had exceeded these they'd have had to wait outside - and the Covid info on the TV screen appeared to be from last lockdown. As it was late in the day the appointment was slightly late, but nothing to complain about compared to some of the above.
 

92002

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27 Mar 2014
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Location
Clydebank
Phoned for an appointment after getting a letter from practice for a regular blood test. No problem getting through and got my appointment.

The test was done by the practice manager, since many staff are off on sickness. Or by test and trace request.

When I arrived there was minimal staff on duty at reception. With a long line of folks who decided to go in person for an appointment. However the answer to all was the same. You need a telephone consultation first and the GP will decide if you need a face to face appointment. After it was my turn to check in I was late for my appointment, but that was not a trauma.

The service is still under extreme pressure with missing staff. No sense of making a drama out of it, you won't get anywhere and probably will get an even later phone consultation.

Going to hospital can be even more tedious. With extra long waits to be seen. They too are under pressure with staff shortages. It's all about the pandemic and staff on sickness. So no easy answer.
 

dakta

Member
Joined
18 Jun 2008
Messages
210
Ooh its ages since I went to the GP, my sister did recently and it was a case of they won't take your call before 8 and anything after 5 past 8 they've nothing left.

Last time I did (try to) see a quack was after a dog bite, it was quite nasty and went to A+E and the friendly reception crew at the hospital saw me coming to the door so they rushed to it and locked it before I could get there. No idea what that was about (I wasn't armed or anything). Maybe it was a bad time to call. So just went to tesco, bought a shedload of bandages, and hoped for the best.


Does anyone get a guilty sense whenever they go to see the quack? Knowing the pressures on the NHS it can be a bit difficult deciding where the threshold is for asking for assistance.
 
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Spamcan81

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12 Sep 2011
Messages
848
Location
Bedfordshire
Pre pandemic my surgery was great as you could book an appointment on line to avoid the 08:00 phone lottery. There was the option to visit the surgery and make an appointment in person but that generally involved turning up at 07:30 and waiting for the doors to open as the queue by 08:00 would be quite long. Since the beginning of the first lockdown the on line booking system has been scrapped and has yet to return. For a while we had an e-consult service and that worked ok but that has now been scrubbed. So we are back to trying to get through on the phone or queueing up to make an appointment in person. Fortunately I've not needed a GP in months but I do know of some people having to wait a long while for a telephone appointment.
 

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