I have always been at the same GP surgery, even since moving house in February.
Getting an appointment is quite simple - you just need to phone up and ask. Because I have been with them forever, there are a couple of doctors I try to stick with. There is also the option of getting an emergency appointment (on the same day) - I had to do this for my mum recently as her fever was getting worse and worse throughout the day and she could hardly move - I was so grateful that I could get an appointment for her within a few hours. It turned out she had a urinary tract infection and needed antibiotics - the infection had travelled to her kidneys so it was a good thing she got an appointment so quickly. There used to be one receptionist who was very rude and almost always said that the Doctor I wanted an appointment with was on holiday - when I eventually got my appointment, the doctor told me I should have come sooner and that she hadn't been on holiday! Thankfully that receprionist retired! I understand they have a hard job but I don't think it's right when the receptionists are rude or when they insist my results are fine when I'm supposed to speak to a doctor!
The waiting room is clean and spacious. There is a section for children with toys in it - I wish they would put quieter toys in there sometimes as it is not good to hear lots of noise when you're ill and waiting half an hour in the waiting room.
The toilet is also clean and easy to access.
Most of the doctors I have seen are patient and understanding, and take me seriously (I don't have to go very often thankfully). There was one doctor who seemed strange, and when I had a stomach problem, kept insisting I was pregnant!
After I had squint surgery, they were quick to refer me to eye specialists when there were any problems, and were happy to write me letters which I needed to inform my university.
There are sometimes bureaucratic issues when it comes to getting certain injections e.g when my sister had to get the Hep C injection for uni, the surgery insisted that the university should do it until a few letters were sent back and forth, and they eventually agreed to give it.
The nurses who have given me injections for holidays have always been helpful, cheerful and competent.
Thanks for reading!
My GP surgery is not bad, the doctors are all friendly and helpful and I can always get an appointment on the day I phone however it is not my surgery that I would like to review, but I feel Saltash Surgery deserve a very big mention as what they did for my son and I was well above the call of duty.
It all started three years ago when we first returned to Saltash to live after 7 years away. I could not get into Saltash Surgery so registered with another about 2 miles from home.
I recieved a call from my son's school to say they thought he was having an ashma attack and could I pick him up. He had never had an attack but non the less I picked him up from school and went straight to my surgery to get him seen. By the time we arrived he seemed fine and the receptionist booked him in for later that day and we started to walk home. On the way he announced he couldnt breath and became very distant. As Saltash Surgery was closer I headed in that direction to see if they could help as I was a bit worried to say the least.
As we arrived my son said "Ive stopped breathing and collapsed". I threw him over the buggy (with my 1yr old son in it) and flew threw the surgery doors, by this time he had come round. I explained to the recepionist what had happened and before I knew it there was a doctor and two nurses there looking after him and asking for an ambulance.
I was now worried that as my husband works away and I had only just moved to Saltash and didnt know anyone how was I going to pick up my other two sons from two different schools and who would look after my one yr old - my nearest relative lived at least 45 minutes away.
I was told by the doctor not to worry, and told to leave the number of my mother in law, my keys, the school details and my one year old with reception and get in the ambulance.
I didnt know at the time but one receptionist looked after my son while phoning my mother in law while another went and picked my children up from school. They were all looked after and fed by the receptionists until they were picked up.
The doctor had been very persistant on getting an ambulance ASAP and kept the hospital informed of my sons condition. He then phoned every day while my son was in hospital for updates.
My son was diagnosed with a very rare condition that made his windpipe swell up and close completely which stopped his breathing. Had it not been for the quick thinking of the doctor who recognised the condition my son would not be here. The reception staff were fantastic with my other sons, reassuring them and keeping them happy which they did without hesitating. My son is now 13 and luckly has never had a repeat attack. Both him and myself will never forget what the surgery did for us that day especially as we did not belong to that practice.I will never be able to thank them enough.
I'm sure I'm no different to anybody else when I say that I value my health and well-being greatly. Whilst it may not be particularly fashionable to say it, I think most individuals need to take a lot more responsibility for their own health and that of their children, so it goes without saying that we should all be thinking about issues like healthy eating. Nonetheless, at varying degrees of frequency, we all get unwell, and we all turn to our local GP when we do.
I've recently taken the 'bold' step of changing my GP. It's a relatively simple process; I literally went along to the one I wanted, filled out a form and that was pretty much it. But what struck me about the whole situation was just how susceptible we are to the quality of our GP and how little information or support there is for us to make the right decision about who supports our medical well being.
The decision to switch GP was not one I took spontaneously; it was a decision based on repeat poor experiences at the particular surgery I registered with. When I moved to Central London a few years ago, I was largely inundated with a choice of surgeries within a reasonable distance from my home and even then I remember thinking what an uninformed decision it was. My choice was largely driven by location and very superficial factors and having now changed again, for patients, I believe this situation to be the same.
When I consider the factors that contributed to my decision to change GP, it struck me that there were certain areas of performance against which all GPs should be measured and it therefore immediately struck me that none of this information was available.
I would frequently find myself waiting unacceptable times to be seen by the doctor. I might book an appointment for 09:00, for example, and it would not be uncommon to still find myself waiting in the waiting room at 10:00. This is unacceptable and symptomatic of a doctor who seemed unable to manage his own time, seemed to fiddle around with other tasks between patients and, at least in the early part of the day, couldn't manage his attendance at the surgery in line with his patients. On one occasion, the cause of delay was cited as a home emergency that the doctor had attended. I deem this unacceptable. If patients at home are unwell enough for it to be deemed an emergency, then they should call an ambulance. This should not be part of a GP's role. Indeed, I don't agree that GPs should be making any home visits. If patients are elderly or infirm and unable to make it to the surgery, then for regular, routine visits, the care should be administered by a health visitor. So I think patients should be able to see what the average waiting time is once you have arrived for an appointment.
I also found the process for booking appointments laborious and unhelpful. My new surgery, for example, offers the facility to book appointments online (which is useful) but at the previous surgery, it was all based on calls to receptionists who were frequently unhelpful or rude and seemed to exhibit a mentality way above their station. I can't help thinking that the appointment process really needs to be managed centrally across the entire network, benefiting from the efficiencies that a call centre structure would offer and not pandering to the time spent by individual receptionists making cups of tea and talking to their colleagues. Another factor for me, therefore, is the time taken to answer calls, whether those calls are local rate or free and the responsiveness of the reception staff.
It's also important that you can get an appointment when you need one. Previous GP seemed inordinately difficult to pin down. His surgery hours were something like 09:00-12:00 and then 16:00 -17:30, with no availability at weekends. This is, again, unacceptable. GPs are paid a lot of money and must therefore accept that this involves working around and outside office hours. Prospective patients should be able to see this and get some idea of the average time taken to get an appointment. Whilst schedules must offer flexibility to accommodate emergencies, I was often told that for non-urgent appointments, a delay of up to five working days was not uncommon. This strikes me as unacceptable.
But in the grand scheme of things, these are merely issues of process and convenience and certainly wouldn't dictate your overall well-being. More fundamentally, it's critical that we can understand how well our GP can diagnose and treat our illnesses and ailments. This is probably rather more difficult to measure.
Patient feedback here is critical and whilst there is a structure for patients to offer this feedback on the NHS web site, the take-up is minimal. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of such things in GP surgeries and waiting rooms and it seems that this sector is unwilling and not keen to try and get this kind of feedback. For hospitals, this sort of feedback is now more commonly found and is often enlightening, and forms a central part of the NHS Choices programme, where a patient decides where they want to receive treatment. For my latest move, I researched a number of London practices and simply found no comments from patients. I think GPs and practices must encourage this kind of feedback and patients should then use it to make future decisions. In small, busy practices, the good and bad GPs seem to be recognisable from waiting room conversations but to an outsider, it's all a mystery.
It's difficult to establish what the GP has to offer too. Whilst GPs need to offer a broad spectrum of knowledge, some degree of specialisation also strikes me as being very useful. If a practice, for example, were staffed by a doctor with more skills in paediatrics, then would local families not be more inclined to register there? Should it be the case that ALL GPs have to show more qualification in key areas? Alternatively, should there be specialist practices specifically reserved for treating children? I can't help thinking that the 'one size fits all' approach currently taken doesn't really fit. Certainly, many practices now run as health centres offer a wider range of services, with nurses and other practitioners who support the GP's central role. But I find this sorely lacking. Having managed team members who suffered from depression and anxiety-related disorders, for example, I know that the GP was often a bad first point of contact, unsympathetic to such conditions and often quite harsh. Given that very often, we are able to make a first line diagnosis of our condition (we think it's flu, depression, it's one of my children etc) then there would be scope to go to somebody else with specialist knowledge in the first instance. I can see how this might be very difficult to administer, but I'm not sure 'generalisation' works anymore.
Furthermore, it's very difficult to gauge the personal competence or attributes of your GP. I knew that when I met my new GP, for example, that I would at the very least be comfortable talking to and interacting with him. I can't say the same of previous doctors. It's important, I think, to be able to choose a man or a woman, which is reasonably easily done by name alone, but what you can't choose is someone based on experience. In its crudest form, there are arguments that GPs should have to publish mortality rates on their patients. Whilst this might have caught out an extreme problem like Harold Shipman, I'm not sure that this is terribly representative of the vast majority of GPs but I'd certainly support the need for some form of measurement or visibility of GP results. These have more power when taken in comparison rather than isolation, of course. A national mortality rate on lung cancer might be, for example, 50%. If your GP's performance were rated at 75%, would you not want to know this to consider making a move?
I've enormous respect for the GP role and support the argument that this is a complex and responsible position and that GPs' working hours should primarily be spent caring for patients. That aside, the role also commands a very good salary (very commonly in excess of £100k per annum these days) and therefore it is entirely appropriate that patients are given the information and mechanisms to be more demanding of their doctor. The capability to make high level complaints is one thing. What we need to see more of is the capability for patients to vote with their feet and refuse further treatment from doctors they deem to be ineffective.
It seems that this has received a mixed set of reviews. However it really does seem to be a case of identifying who the gp's are which you feel comfortable with and sticking with them. In my case I am fortunate that my appointed gp is someone I have a lot of respect for. In the worst of times he has been a sympathetic ear and has been able to relate to my situation.
He always seems to have time to discuss whatever is on your mind. This is of course despite the fact that the waiting lists aren't getting any shorter. He is a very thorough gp and seems to have a genuine care for his patients. He is somehow whose demeanour means it is able to open up with him and discuss whatever is on your mind.
In addition to him there is another doctor who I get on quite well with and seems to possess the qualities that I can identify with. In the latter case he has also done some visits which I very much appreciated and once again this to speaks volumes about the person.
Ironically of course, the gp who currently runs the surgery is the antithesis of these positives and while he is not rude or ignorant, he seems to be very sloppy and very focus on getting you in and out as quickly as possible.
It is due to this mixed variety of the good and the bad that I am careful when making appointments and will specify the person I would like to see. Knock on wood of course the times where I have needed to see a gp have been few and far between. However due to wanting to avoid certain doctors, it does mean that I sometimes have to wait for an appointment. I would rather do that though then feel uncomfortable while in the doctors room.
Gp's do get huge sums of money and I fully appreciate the pressure they are under. Unfortunately it does seem that for every few good gps's there are also a few bad gp's. The best advice of course, without wishing to be condescending is stay healthy
Getting an appointment at my surgery is a ridiculous process nearing on mission impossible most days. I swear, my GPs surgery is being run my morons!
There is no conceivable way of attaining an appointment 'in advance' at my surgery and so you can only obtain an appointment on the day. Traditionally they (receptionists) say that you need to ring up the surgery at 8:30 the next morning to get yourself an appointment. But in doing this you end up engaged whenever you ring for about the first ten minutes. After that you can normally get through to the surgery but by that point they're all gone. So no appoint for me.
Apparently (though they don't tell you this) there is an actual way of gaining an appointment and that's to go down to the surgery at 8:00 in the morning. Definitely not a conceivable option for someone without a car or someone who is working most of that day anyway (or someone who sleeps in).
It's then hard to evaluate the rest of a surgery when you can't even get an appointment there.
But in contrast my old surgery was great! I could ring up on the day and they'd still try to fit my in and see me regardless of the fact that it wasn't an emergency. And I could always get an appointment whenever I rang up without any of those problems. So I'd hate to paint all surgeries as awful, just my current one!
(If anyone else has any ideas as to how I can get it changed, please tell me!)
I find it quite alarming the number of bad reports I hear about GPs- I have always found the practice I go to is excellent. But I am now going to say something which may be controversial. Maybe I have a good relationship with all the Doctors at the clinic because I am a good patient?
I learned how they felt about me on two occasions- one when I happened to see a letter they had sent to the local hospital which had the opening line..." can you please help this lovely lady". The second was when I was sitting waiting for my appointment time with one Doctor and the head of practice had finished for the day, locked his surgery and went to leave. He caught sight of me and I heard him ask the staff in the office if I was waitng for an appointment- they said yes- at which point he came back, unlocked his surgery-announcing- " come in I'll see you".
Now I say this because I have heard others critical of the practice- I haven't always been able to dig deeper - but on the occasions I have, it would appear the Doctor has not been as sympathetic/helpful as they feel they should be-but I wouldn't be if called out in the middle of the night for a cold.
I wouldn't be exactly helpful if they weren't doing their best to help themselves- working with the Doctor rather than expecting him/her to provide a miracle cure.
I don't blame them for not offering medical certificates for time off work for a month when a couple of days (if that) will suffice.
I understand that they are not there as social services and cannot get someone a council house.
Now I have to add that, I know that Doctors are not perfect human beings and one Dr's lack of care nearly killed me-it was the weekend and my parents called out a Doctor- the Doctor that came was from another practice and he hardly examined me, and was very rude about the fact he had been called out for such a ridiculous problem- later that day I was in casualty fighting for my life as I was having something call anaphylatic shock and busy going blue.
Guess what I want to say is- GPs are not gods- but then patients are not angels.
I have mixed feelings about my current surgery, although it is much better than my previous surgery. At the previous one I found it hard to even try and see my doctor, he's a bit on the scary side with that high tone of voice which makes you feel like your being told off and you know nothing at all. He just makes you feel so small. The reception area also put me off, it's just a desk with the seating quite near to it. So as you walk in a load of eyes stare back at you, I would feel somewhat intimidated by this, like I really shouldn't be there. That was not the worst of the Reception area, it is that fact that everyone could hear your personal details being given or asked for. Do I really want everyone to know my business?
I have some health problems which I did not think would be taken seriously, as I knew what my doctor's attitude was like. So I ended up leaving the surgery and joining a new one. I only joined this new one because it had a female doctor and thought I would feel somewhat comfortable in discuss my menstrual issues and that she would understand my problem much better. On joining the surgery I was given a form to fill in about my general health and contact details and was told after a week I could make an appointment to see the doctor, as the computer would be updated by then. I was expecting maybe a general check up with the nurse or something as a new patient but did not get one. I guess every surgery has their own way of doing things.
Reception is a big rectangle room with chairs and tables neatly set out with a section of toys at the back. They have a section of notice boards with information about the surgery and various health issues. Overall it looks clean. The receptionists are closed off so you just have a sliding window which they just slide across to talk to you. Much better then the open layout of the previous surgery, at least there is some privacy in giving details. I find the receptionists friendly on greeting you but I have a mixed opinion on how they are on the phone. They have like an intercom to call the patients to the rooms. I always find myself trying to concentrate to hear it, just worried in case I miss it completely. Sometimes reception can be noisy with people talking or with kids driving you mad as you are waiting to see the doctor.
Phoning for an appointment is like torture, especially when you really need to see your own doctor. Before I would be getting appointments maybe a week after I had phoned. Now it is impossible to get an appointment a week ahead. My own doctor told me to phone 2 weeks before to get an appointment, but sometimes this is not possible for me, I get so ill that I get confused at times. Getting an appointment has just got worse, my doctor only comes in for 2 days now, a Monday and Tuesday, so now reception have told me to ring after 8.30am to get an appointment on the day. This makes me feel stressed out more than usual. I have this fear I'm not going to get the appointment I need so badly. So being told to ring after 8.30am, I continuously pressed redial every 10 minutes to find the answer machine message saying for urgent problems call this and that number. This really stressed me out even more, she said call after 8.30 and no one is picking up the phone. Then about 9.15am I found an engaged tone, so like a mad woman I kept pressing redial every minute. Finally the phone was ringing and reception took their time to answer the call. Luckily I finally got an appointment for 4.00pm, panic over I can now relax. Heck, a person can get ill trying to get a routine appointment. Mum could see me literately getting obsessed to get the appointment. Ok so yesterday I found out that I should ring up around 9.15am to get through to the receptionist, why couldn't they just say instead of wasting my time and money trying to get through only to find the answer machine. I may need a new phone sooner than I think, that redial button may just stop working with obsessive use.
Waiting to see the doctor can vary, in the mornings I find I'll be waiting up to an hour sometimes, whereas in the afternoon around school's out I get to see my doctor much quicker and It is generally more quieter. I prefer afternoon appointments you don't feel like you going totally mad while waiting.
Getting to see the doctor, well I generally feel like napping in reception while waiting and have to pull myself together to discuss my issues with her. My doctor is an American, it's quite funny when you phone up and the receptionist refers her to "the American one" Do I really need to know she is American? As long as she is a doctor I don't care. She is actually quite good, she really takes time out to discuss problems. I think my consultations with her have been more than the usual 10 minute slot. Seeing her I feel somewhat relieved that someone has listened and is making the effort to help me in my time in need.
Overall, it is a good service when I finally get to see my doctor, but the whole process of trying to get an appointment is an extremely stressful one which I could do without, it is just making me feel even more ill.
In the past, if you were ill and wanted to see your doctor, then all you needed to was go to your local GP, and wait a little while. However, nowadays, it is much harder. Because doctors these days are taking on so many patients, the waiting list seems to constantly growing, and by the time you are able to get an appointed, what ever was wrong with you has passed.
When my wife was extremely ill, I ring our local surgury to ask if I could make an emergency appointment, and even when I explained what was wrong with her, they told me that I needed to wait for two days before she could she the doctor. In end, I just told her to the hospital when she eventually had to have her appendix taken out. We were told if we had waited the two days to see the doctor, she may not have been so lucky. So, as you can imagine, I am not a great fan of GPs, however they can be useful when you do evetually get to see them.
Another thing that angers me is the services that they offer. Nowadays, GPs will take appointments from people who are just simply suffering from a common cold and are being dramatic, wasting their time. People who lie to get a sick note also annoy me, and there are a lot of these people who I know. A friend of mine went to his GP to get a sick note from his doctor because he had cut his finger, and can you believe it, he got one.
So far, my review does seem to be largely negative, so dont get me wrong, GPs do serve their purpose. They are excellent at what they do and when you are able to see them, they are both friendly and caring, respecting your privacy, and always being honest with you, after all thats what you really want from a doctor.
I had to transfer to the health center i am reviewing now after moving house 4 years ago as we no longer lived in the catchment area for the surgery we were previously at.
We chose this surgery as it is the closest to our house even if that is still 20 minutes away and more so because it has 6 doctors 4 nurses 2 midwives and a health vistor all under 1 roof.
Our first appointments there were new patient check ups, i was disgusted to be told by the nurse after taking our height and weights that we were under weight and checked these on some daft paper chart only to tell me that i had a body fat index of 12.
I didnt realy understand this at the time but looked it up when i got home to find that a body fat index of 16.5 is classed as severley anarexic, i went back to my old doctor and insisted they measure my body fat so he did with a set of metal type pliers that had a ruler on them and pinches your skin. My body fat index was 19 so there was nothing wrong with it.
The next problem i found was i tried to book an appointment towards the end of november 2003 only to be told they were fully booked that month and couldnt access next month on the systems to book appointments for december untill the 1st of the month.
On the 1st of december i went to my surgery before they even opened and waited a few minutes for the receptionidt to unlock the surgery and turn the computer on. I tried to book an appointment for the same day only to be told they had nothing available untill the 18th of december.
If i was the first person in the surgery on the 1st day they could start booking in december how had all the appointments already gone?. The receptionist refused to answer this question and told me i could have the 18th of december and phone each day to see if there were any cancelations if i wanted something earlier.
I went to my appointment on the 18th of december, got there for 10.15 my appointment wasnt untill 10.30 and had to wait untill 11.35 to be seen and was told when i asked why that the doctor was running a bit behind.
Every appointment i have ever been to has been like this, on one occasion it was already 45 minutes past my appointment time when the receptionist arranged for a lady to be seen as an emergency as she had a sickness bug and because she was disabled in a wheelchair she had to be seen before the rest of us.
When i asked why they told me she was severely ill and hadnt been able to keep any food down since yesterday, how does no food for 1 day make a already obese woman a priority over patients that have had to waite a month to be seen. I mean this woman was realy big probably close to 20 stone, she didnt fit into a standard wheel chair.
Is it just me, have i got no heart or is this just not on?
All the doctors are always running late and we are asked to arrive 5 minutes before your appointment time, at one appointment i had waited 6 days for for my daughter who had not kept any food down for 10 days i arrived 3 minutes before my appointment to be told i was late and my appointment had been given to someone else. ok so i wasnt 5 minutes early but i still had 3 minutes untill my appointment time, what had they done lined patients up out side just incase some one was late to take there place? i dont think so do you.
I tried to re book this appointment and was told i would have to waite 11 days for the next available appointment so i used one of there emergency appointments and even though my 16 month old daughter turned out to have a bug that needed antibiotics to clear it up before she stoped being sick i was told by my doctor not to waste there emergency appointments they are for people who are genuinly sick.
After having my 2nd child at home he had to come out the next day to do a post natal check on her, he said she had oral thrush which turned out to just be the milk sitting on her tongue after her feed and went if i gave her water but he wrote a prescription for this, i fetched the prescription from the chemist and read the instructions.
Do not use if breast feeding or pregnant it said, so i questioned this with the doctor over the phone to be told that he wouldnt have given it me if it was harmful to the baby.
I wasnt happy with this so i phoned NHS direct and spoke to one of there nurses who told me this medicin was available in different strengths i should have 0.5mg for a new born this bottle was 72mg it could have killed my daughter if i had listened to our doctor.
Once again just over two years ago i went to a couple of appointments with my doctor complaining of break through bleeding with the contraceptive pill.
I only went to the doctors as the leaflet with the pack says it was abnormal to have break through bleeding after the first 6 months of use and i had been taking this 16 months by then.
My doctor said there was nothing wrong with me and changed my pill 3 times, it didnt stop so although my smear tests were up to date i went for another smear test which came back as not enough cells had been taken so i was asked by my health authority to rebook this test.
When i tried to rebook i was told by the nurse it was a waste of time and resorces as there was nothing wrong with me even though i had since been back to my doctor to complain about raised glands all over my body.
With a doctors surgery with the amount of staff they have you would think at least one of them could get something right wouldnt you.
I would like to tell my story about an incident at my local doctors,
Ever wanted to make an appointment at your local doctors only to be told you have to phone in the next morning at 8.30 to see if there is an any open appointments? Yes well peeps I have a tale to tell about my experience at my doctors.........
My 13 year old daughter had been unlucky to experience warts, she had a cluster on her right index finger and she wanted them off..who wouldnt?
I had brought the usual over the counter remedies but these warts just werent going to go with out a fight, I spent an absolute fortune but to no avail.
A friend told me that our Doctors have a warts clinic, so I telephoned the doctors to make an appointment. we were going on our holidays in 3 months and she was desparate to get rid of them.
I telephoned at 8.30 on the monday morning and was told that although the surgery had only just opened all the appointments were gone. I asked to speak to a nurse, my surgery allows consultations over the phone with either a nurse or Doctor. If they thought you needed to be seen then they will make an appointment for you. I was told by the receptionist that the nurse would telephone me with an hour. I waited and waited but no call came..May be they were busy??
Next morning at 8.25 I telephoned the doctors for an appointment and again I was told that all appointments were taken and that I would need to call the doctors every morning until I can get one. Pathetic as if I havent anything else to do!....It wasnt an emergency so we would have to wait for an appointment.
A week later we got the appointment and waited for over an hour and a half, according to the receptionist some previous patients had taken up more time than allocated.. Finally we got to sit down and I told the doctor all about my daughters warts. To my amazement he told me that he would have to request an appointment with another one of the practice doctors who was incharge of the wart clinic. He told me that this would take about 3 weeks. By this time we would of had already wasted about 4 weeks in trying to get an appointment and waiting for a wart clinic appointment.
The day of the appointment came and I took my daughter to the clinic, she was only 13 at the time and skin is fragile at that young age. We sat down he took one look at her finger and said he could treat it with nitrogen spray based product... Because it was a large cluster of warts he gave her finger several blasts of the treatment. My daughter was in so much pain, she began to scream and she went grey. He stopped a little and told her to brace herself as he would give it another go just to make sure he got it all... BIG MISTAKE. He said that the warts would fall off with a couple of days?
My poor daughter was in agony and had to have the next day off school, she was sick and her finger had turned black. I didnt know what to expect but thankfully I have a freind who is a nurse, she took one look at her finger and immediately took us back down to the doctors, we saw a GP straightaway as an emergency, the Wart clinic doctor had severly burned her finger, she had to have a nurse treat her for burns every 2 days at our doctors, for 6 weeks. She has lost all feeling in the tip of her finger now, but hopefully it will return.
We went on holiday and all is well with her now, but about 2 months ago I returned to the same doctor as my daughter had a massive wart on her heel, he gave her the same treatment and again he was very rough with her... This time I gave him a piece of my mind. Needless to say this doctor refuses to see me now. I dont mind but if I have learned one thing from all this, and that is dont put up with shoddy services and complain when you arent satisfied.
Dont let a mediacl degree stop you from asking questions and complaining.
It is unlikely that there is a single person alive in Britain today that hasn’t at one time or another sought the services of their local GP and been grateful for the availability at the time of need. But the hard-pressed GP is being abused with frivolous call outs thus depriving a genuinely sick person from getting the attention that they need or at least delaying it. People make appointments to see their doctor and fail to turn up then complain when they can’t get an appointment at a time of their own convenience. They complain when they have to wait for days before being able to see their doctor. But what most people seem to forget is that the GP is also a human being and like all humans has the need for rest, food and recreation. Nationally, missed appointments cost millions of pounds and those millions could finance an extra 1,500 GP’s. I have always had a great deal of faith and trust in doctors, especially GP’s, but there is another side to the coin. An increasing number of GP’s no longer live on the same premises as the surgery and thus have to travel from somewhere else to get to their surgery to see their patients. It could be from doing his rounds of home visits and some also do hospital visits but it is more likely to be from home after a late lunch or at then end of a once weekly afternoon anti-natal clinic. My previous GP of many years standing as my GP, was always on time to see his first patient of the day be it the morning or late afternoon session. Indeed as I was always in the habit of making my regular three monthly appointments for a check-up some ten days in advance, I was usually the first in line. I have always treated an appointment anywhere as if it was the departure time of a once in a lifetime holiday, or in other words I made sure that I would not be late and thus would often arrive ten or even twenty minutes early. Sitting in my car listening to the radio and eating a banana or ha
ving a fag passed the time admirably. Many was the time when the doctor saw a few people in the surgery as he walked through to his office, he would call in the first patient even if it was before time. I was often in and out clutching a prescription for the next three months worth of pills before the official start of surgery. Patients could rely on the fact that if their appointment was within the first hour of the surgery then they would not have to wait ages to see the doctor. Later on, off course the waiting time extended, as patients needs increased the 5 minutes that were allotted them. Off course he had all his patients records on computer as well as in the standard folder, which saved a lot of time, which was devoted to listening what the patient had to say and in examination. At the end he selects the appropriate medication presses a key and lo and behold the prescription clattered its way out of the printer. Not only was he a very good doctor his surgery ran with an efficiency that allowed for emergency cases to be seen with minimal disruption to the other waiting patients. With my old GP the receptionist would tell the waiting patients of any delay and the reason for it. I cannot say that for my current GP. Not only does he not use a computer he often doesn’t arrive at the surgery until well after he should have been seeing the first patient and thus everyone has an extended wait. So if doctors expect us to be on time and attend then he should also follow that creed although I accept that there will be occasions when circumstances prevent this. A GP’s salary is based on a basic sum plus an allowance for the number of patients that s/he has enrolled in his/her practice and an allowance for the surgery staff and is paid for by the government with our taxes under the heading of National Insurance contributions. Unless the GP has aspersions of owning a yacht anchored in St. Tropez and intends to do his rounds in a Porsche, live in a man
sion and send his kids to a private school, a GP’s salary is more than adequate and on a par with other professions of a similar stature. Yet many GP’s now make additional charges for their services in the form of seeking payments for signing documents etc. Some GP’s even have two practices and it seems to me that many are getting greedy. Maybe that is because the government payments are considered as inadequate in the light of fat cat industry and commerce directors receiving six figure salaries as a basic with a variety of perks on top of that. For decades the BMA and other bodies representing the various professions have tried to make a case that their profession was the most important and thus worthy of the highest salary. When they win the other professions clamour for more claiming that as they too are at least on a par with the others they should get at least the same. And so it goes on, one leap frogging the others. I’m not sure where the GP is in the professions salary league table but whatever the position surely it cannot be all that bad. In fact I would go so far as to say that it is more than adequate to live a comfortable life. Some 30 years ago a GP made no extra charges for conducting medicals and signing certificates and the like. 15 years ago my GP charged me £4.00 for signing a certificate after a medical, to verify that I was fit to gain my Private Hire Drivers’ licence. Some 4 years ago there was no charge for signing a document to support my claim for DLA and he also had to sign a separate form sent to him by the benefits agency that was to all intents and purposes a verification of the original certificate. A few months ago he charged me £6.50 to sign the form and photograph for a replacement driving licence. As some readers will know I have recently moved to another town and had to change my GP because of it. My new GP has a scale of charges thus: £20.00 for Passports and D
riving Licences £13.50 - £29.00 for a certificate to support a claim for benefits £8.00 for a private medical certificate £9.00 for a vaccination certificate £13.50 - £29.00 for a holiday cancellation certificate £63.00 for a full medical for HGV licence, taxi driver etc. and also for a medical to enable a driver over 70 years of age to continue driving. This would also include any driver who has suffered a heart attack or has a medical condition that could interfere with their driving ability and they need a medical to confirm that they are fit to drive again. So just how long does it take to look at the patient and verify that the photograph is a good likeness and the person is who they claim to be and sign the form? Five minutes maybe? Supporting a claim for benefits may involve a medical or at least a search of the patient’s records to establish the disability but because they are making such a claim means that they do not have sufficient income. If a charge has to be made surely a nominal charge would suffice. Even charging for a medical or vaccination certificate is a bit steep as is charging for a certificate to verify that the patient was ill and had to cancel a holiday, especially with a range of charges. How does he differentiate? Cancelled holiday in Blackpool £13.50 to Bahamas £29.00? A GP gets his salary whether he sees a patient or not because a GP gets paid for the number of patients signed up to his practice and not how often he attends to their medical needs. In fact making charges for extra curricular activities is nothing more than getting greedy. I accept that no GP will be signing forms and giving medicals each and every day and as such the extra money will not amount to a great deal in a year, so why bother in the first place? The idea of each district having their own GP’s to attend to the populace’s needs is an ideal system but the general public have abused the sys
tem and GP’s are getting greedy.
I have been with my doctor’s surgery for nearly 7 years and my husband for nearly 3 years. Prior to joining this surgery I was with another that was run by just one doctor along with a mid-wife and a nurse. I cannot fault the doctor, nurse, mid-wife or the surgery what so ever. He treated me with respect, was always polite, easy to confide in when it came to personal health problems and generally did what he could to help patient leave feeling happy and satisfied with the service he had provided. Any way due to me moving address I was forced to change over to another surgery but was reluctant to do so. As I had a small baby and house calls would have been out of the boundaries for the doctor I had to do what I thought was best and change to one near by just in case of an emergency that warranted a home visit. Well despite not wanting to change, I did find a surgery that is local to my previous address (moved since), just a 20 minute walk and well in the boundaries should a home visit be needed. I remember joining, I had just found out I was pregnant with my second child and my first Charlotte was just a few months old. At the time there was four doctors at the surgery, 2 nurses and 2 midwives. So after choosing one of the doctor’s, I filled in the forms with previous doctor, address, medical certificate number etc and an appointment was arranged for all in my household to meet the doctor and ask any questions or raise any concerns etc. Well on meeting the doctor I found him pleasant and despite the short time knowing him was generally at ease speaking to him with openness. Quite a bit of time passed by and despite just having the usual anti-natal appointments, I never needed to see the doctor. That was until I had a terrible pain in one of my breast, it was red, tender and what appeared to be a rather large and hard lump under the skin. I was rather concerned and had this burni
ng pain, so I made an appointment for as soon as possible. I rang up the doctor’s surgery and after the phone being engaged for some time I got through to the receptionist. I described what my findings was and the symptoms I was getting and then explain that I was in the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy. Then I was told that they would be able to fit me in, however this would be with a locum doctor as my doctor was not available for extra appointments. So off I plodded down to the doctor’s, all my glory swinging around, as it was less painful not to wear a bra. It was a lady doctor that I seen, and she was not the most of pleasant doctor’s I must say. She kind of reminded me of a former head mistress, firm, blunt and direct. After a not so gentle examination of my breast she diagnosed mastitis, it is something to do with the milk ducts getting blocked and an infection building up inside the breast. Apparently this normally happens after the birth of a baby but as I had produced so much milk, it had aided me getting it sooner. I was put on antibiotics for a course of fives days, which did the trick. *My rating of that occasion: Receptionist manner and efficiency 4/5 Doctor’s general approach 2/5 Doctor’s examination 3/5 Doctor’s diagnosis 5/5 Overall 14/20 If was a few weeks that had passed when my daughter who was nearly a year old at the time had become what was obvious to me very ill. It was late in the afternoon, after just happily playing she seemed to have gone suddenly quite. At that time I just thought that she wanted her usual afternoon nap. That was until her temperature went soaring and this week and feeble cry was just reaching out to me. As the day went on she started to show signs of rapid deterioration, drifting in and out of sleep, constant feeble crying, temperature rising, lack of movement’s, sunken fontanel (soft spot), glassy eyes and dar
k and sunken shadows below her eyes. I immediately phoned up the surgery, to which I was greeted with a message as it was past closing hours. The message explained that if an emergency call out was needed then to phone the number left for an out of hours doctors to call. I jotted down the number and then progressed to ring it. The number was swiftly answered, I was asked a series of questions, i.e. my daughters age, symptoms and my doctor’s name and surgery address. I was then told that the doctor on call would ring me back to speak to me personally. A few minutes later the doctor rang me and asked a few more questions regarding my daughters symptoms, only to tell me that she is probably tired! Let her sleep and if she is no better in the morning take her to your surgery! I was mortified to say the least; yes it may have been late in the evening but is that any reason to turn a sick child away? Well the night passed and after hours of not being able to sleep due to sheer worry and nursing my daughter, giving her tiny amounts of cooled boiled water and dabbing a damp cloth over her body she was no better. I didn’t call my surgery; I just turned up with my daughter in a taxi and demanded to let her be seen. I did manage to have my daughter seen and she was diagnosed with severe dehydration and if it wasn’t for me giving her tiny amounts of cooled boiled water and dabbing her body with a damp cloth then she would have needed to be admitted to hospital. *My rating of that occasion: Easy access to an emergency number 5/5 Speed of doctor’s call back 3/5 Manner of call out doctor 1/5 Call out doctor’s helpfulness 0/5 Overall 8/20 Since that occasion I am reluctant to call out a doctor out of hours. Both these examples could have been handled a lot different, but the main issue with doctors are their attitude towards patients. On some occasions I do get a good service, with prompt appointments and low waiting room times. Over the years I have seen a rapid decrease in most of the services provided by our local surgery. Perhaps that is because of more and more patients making pointless appointments for self-healing minor illnesses or perhaps it is because many surgeries have too many patients to deal with and too much pressure is put on G.P’s today. I do sympathise with doctors as many of them are under pressure and do try their best to see as many patients possible. It is patients that feel fit to make an appointment for the likes of a common cold that has made doctor services poor and inefficient. All my bad experiences with doctors are usually in the care of a doctor that is independent to the surgery. I have had busy times that I have had to wait quite a few days to be seen, but if people kept their appointments, cancelled ones that were no longer needed or didn’t make pointless appointments then we would all get a far better service.
Recent media reports have been telling us how stressed NHS GP's are. Their workload is huge and it's their patients that make life so stressful. It is claimed that as many as 80% of appointments with a doctor are not medically necessary. People fill up appointments books and surgery waiting rooms to consult their GP's about trivial conditions that can self treated very easily. The favourite on is the 'cold'. Now everybody knows this can't be cured and there's no need for a doctor unless you have another complaint as well. Other appointments are made for straightforward headaches, mild indigestion and various other mild aches and pains that can be treated at home. No doctor minds seeing a patient who is in severe pain and can't control it but many of these people haven't even attempted to help themselves. Requests for housecalls during the night have also increased. Chest pain at 3am, collapse, serious bleeding and sick babies are excellent reasons for calling out a doctor. I have never had any complaints about my GP. I would never ask for a housecall if I could possibly get to the surgery and I certainly wouldn't call a doctor out during the night unless it was very urgent. The surgery know this and on the only ocassion I had to call a doctor at 4am I had no problems. He arrived in twenty minutes to handle what was a life or death situation. When your GP has up half the night doing his job for a very sick patient and he comes into the surgery, looks round the door and sees the 'regulars', how do you think he feels? Undervalued, tired and downright annoyed at this waste of his valuable time, no doubt. You GP will never mind dealing with genuine problems but if you think before you make an appointment you could save a lot of stress and leave your doc free to deal with serious cases. If you are otherwise is good health it's always worth consulting your pharmacist
for non life threatening conditions. If you can't sort yourself out, then make that appointment. We hear stories of people waiting for three days for appointments when they really have a serious condition. Maybe if those who don't need a doctors skill stop being a nuisance, that situation won't arise.
My G.P now is brilliant and as we have been through quite a bit as a family it is nice to know that you can call on your G.P. without encountering any major problems with the receptionist. This was not the case for us three years ago though. My son was just over a year old and we had a different G.P. at a different surgery. We had been with him since marrying a couple of years before and he seemed fine. There was one G.P. and one or two receptionists on duty at a time. The morning surgery was a come and wait policy. You just turned up and took your turn. Although sometimes it did get pretty packed and you were asked if it was really urgent if not could you come back the next day. The evening surgery was by appointment only. I was told by the receptionist on many occasions that this was for working people as they could then arrange their work around their appointments. My husband and I were both working full time then and our son went to a childminder from 8.00am until 5pm. One particular morning he had a bit of a runny nose. But nothing else wrong. I asked the childminder what she thought and she said oh its nothing leave him if he gets worse I will ring you. Well at about 3.30pm I got a call from work saying that he had become very ill in the last 45mins or so and had a very high temperature and seemed to be off his food. So I told her I would leave work and get a doctors appointment. The doctors appointment was because the childminder was worried about how quickly he had become so ill. I rang the surgery to be told by the receptionist that they had no appointments and I would have to wait until the morning and bring him in and wait. I asked if they could possibly see him that night as the childminder was worried and he was only just over a year old. Only to be told that doesn't matter. I don't have any appointments left so you will have to wait until tomorrow. I then became quite angry as most no
rmal worried mothers would and told her that I would have to take him to the casualty instead and tell them that the G.P. refused to see him. She replied by telling me that I couldn't do that. Who on earth was she to tell me what to do with my son. I was just leaving work when my husband phoned. I explained to him what had happened. He then phoned the doctors surgery to see if he could get any joy. She was even ruder to him. So he lost his temper and told her that he would come and kick the door down if he had to just to get the doctor to see our son. Now I do not condone violent behaviour and I don't think that it was right what he said but he was worried and lost his temper. She knew my husband as she had seen us many times and knew that he was not normally of this nature. But she told him that she was recording the call and would report him to the police. Also we need not come back to the surgery as we would now be struck off. What a great help she was in our time of need. I took my son to the casualty and they diagnosed severe tonsilitis. The doctor was extremely angry that the G.P. would not see him as apparently the throat was so swollen that it was starting to close. This can then cause problems with the breathing if left untreated. His temperature was also extremely high and could have caused him to have a febrile convulsion if not brought down. The hospital then wrote a letter of complaint to the G.P. which we received a copy of but never found out the outcome. We changed doctors to one not far from our home. We both explained what had happened and even told the G.P. what my husband had said to the receptionist. He agreed with our actions and told us that in his surgery children were never made to wait for appointments. If they needed a doctor you just telephone through and they will be fitted in no matter what. I am so glad we did change G.P.'s as six months later my son st
arted having a series of Febrile convulsions. The G.P. was so helpful and comforting in our times of worry. Also our daughter had two fits and meningitis at six weeks old. Again he was there with advice and help. We have never had to wait for an appointment. The only problem we have is getting a G.P. out of an evening for the children if they are particularly sick. But they are a separate team of G.P's and I know that if it was our own G.P we would have no problems at all. The receptionists are great and nothing is too much bother. We are not constantly asked is it urgent? or how sick are you? but just given an appropriate appointment. Why can't all surgery's be the same. The old surgery was of similar size. But they seemed to believe they were god and they could decide what was urgent and what was not. These people are playing with our lives. Like a game of roulette. Booking in those appointments is not just a sales diary for selling windows it is about peoples health. I understand that doctors are busy but young children especially can't always tell you what is wrong. This seems to be getting far worse and now the G.P.s want to leave the NHS. It is going to get far worse. What are the government doing about it? nothing as usual.
Patient: Could I get an appointment to see Doctor Bloggs? Receptionist/Bouncer: The first appointment for Doctor Bloggs is in 2 weeks. Patient: Haven’t you got anything earlier? Receptionist/Bouncer: Are you ill Patient: That’s why I want to see the Doctor Receptionist: What’s wrong with you Patient: That’s what I want the doctor to tell me. Receptionist: Is it urgent. Patient: I don’t know I’m not a doctor. Receptionist: Well we might be able to fit you in to see Dr. ??? In 4 days time at 9am if it is urgent This is the sort of conversation I have every time I need to see my GP. I must admit that when I eventually get through the vetting over the phone and have waited for the 4 days, if by that time I am still ill all the G.Ps at the surgery are very nice and very helpful but by the time you get to see them you have either got better or more frightening you could be much worse. If you have read my op on the N.H.S you will know that in January of this year my father was taken ill at 11pm, my mother telephoned the surgery and was put through to the emergency doctor service. Again a receptionist gave her a grilling and said that the doctor was busy and if she was that worried she should call an ambulance. She didn’t know what to do for the best (She is 86) and phoned me. I went round and although my father was not at all well, by the time we had realised that an emergency doctor was not going to come he was asleep and we decided to wait for the morning surgery to open. Again we could not get passed the Rottweilers who answer the phone and my wife went round to the surgery. Once we had been able to convey the seriousness of my dad’s condition and managed to speak to a G.P, to her Credit she dropped everything and came with us to see my father, a chest infection and Pneumonia was diagnosed and an ambulance called. (The re
sult of this is a different story). At the time that this happened I was recuperating from two major surgical operations and was on medication for postoperative depression. Because of all the worry and backwards and forwards to hospital to visit my father I had not realised that I was running low on my medication. Me: Could I have a repeat prescription as I am running out of tablets. Receptionist: What are you taking? Me; XXXXX Receptionist: I can’t give a repeat prescription for those tablets you have to see the doctor Me: O.k. when can I see him Receptionist: The earliest appointment is in 9 days time Me: but I am nearly out of tablets Receptionist: You should have booked an appointment earlier Me; But I was told that I have to take them continuously Receptionist: That’s the earliest appointment we have. I accepted this under protest but had to bite my tongue as I know of a couple of people who have been taken of their doctor’s list for protesting too strongly. Within days of this happening we tragically lost my father. He died at 3am in the morning at Kingston Hospital. The family was with him when he died but understandably my mother was in a terrible state. (They had been married for 64 years) When we got her home she had not had any sleep and was in a state of shock. She was suffering badly with her breathing and so we telephoned the emergency doctor service once again. We did not have any better luck than before and by this time I was absolutely fuming. When the surgery opened the following morning I went round myself and spoke to the receptionists and asked to see the practice manager Receptionist: What do you want to see her about? Me; I want to make a complaint Receptionist: What about Me: I would like to explain that to the practice manager and not go through it here in front of
a surgery full of people. Receptionist: She is very busy perhaps I could get her to phone you Me; No I want to speak to her now and unless you want me shouting and ranting in front of your patients I would advise you to let her know I am here. Receptionist: She only sees people by appointment she is very busy ME: WILL YOU PLEASE TELL HER I WANT TO SPEAK TO HER NOW. The receptionist finally agreed to tell her that I wanted to make a complaint and I was ushered upstairs where I told her exactly what I thought of her management of the practice. I received an apology and was assured that the emergency doctor service, although paid for by the practice,was forced upon them by the local health authority. I could not write a formal complaint I was told as I was not the next of kin to my father and my Mother should write her own complaint. I told her that I would be writing a formal complaint anyway which I did but have to date never had a reply. She also apologised about my medication and printed me out a repeat prescription from the computer and quickly went in to see the doctor for him to O.K. it. This took two minutes. When I asked why the receptionist had not done this, again I received an apology and was told that sometimes they do get a bit over zealous. Recently my son who has the same first name as me but his initials are M.A instead of M.P had to go to the surgery for Jabs for his holiday in Gambia. He also needed a prescription for Malaria tablets and the nurse told him to wait and the receptionist would get one for him. This was printed off of the computer and given to him. Lucky enough the chemist was closed for lunch and he came round to me for a cup of tea while he waited. He looked at the prescription and noticed that the name of the tablets were not what he had expected and showed the prescription to me. He had been given my prescription for anti-depressants instead of his for Malaria. Not only could this have
been dangerous but had he not have taken much notice could have gone on holiday totally unprotected against Malaria which is I believe a big problem in the Gambia. We are still awaiting the outcome of this one. I do not know what the answer to the above problems are but I do know that my surgery is not an isolated case. The G.Ps when you get to see them are very good, very sympathetic and very helpful. They do not have anywhere near the time necessary to spend with each patient. But something should be done about the practice managers and most of all the receptionists. Doctors receptionists are just that, they are not Doctors and should not be allowed to make decisions on who sees a doctor and who doesn’t, one mistake can prove fatal and most probably has on more than one occasion. Mick Gray