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GP telephone appointments

(40 Posts)
Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 18:42:50

Someone rang me from our GP practice yesterday and said that my GP wanted me to make a telephone appointment with her to discuss an increase in the dose of a medication I take. I made an appointment for today. The GP did not call.

AIBU to think this is unsatisfactory? Should I complain? Or just never make a telephone appointment with that GP again?

The practice changed hands in the last couple of years because the previous GPs retired. I had had several perfectly executed telephone appointments with my previous GP within a set time frame. The current GP does not give any time constraints, not even "some time between 9am and 5pm", it seems.

Sallywally1 Fri 31-Jan-20 18:51:29

I work for a GP surgery in admin. Not making excuses but possibly the GP was unable to make her/his calls for an urgent reason. I work in a tremendously busy urban practices and the doctors (and support staff!) are run ragged.

However this is unacceptable and I do think that, yes, you should flag this up as a complaint. It may be that a patient is in serious need of advice and needs to speak to a doctor. A well worded letter should do the trick. Hope you are ok. The sad thing is that all NHS staff care deeply for their patients, but sometimes are not given the resources to cope with demand.

welbeck Fri 31-Jan-20 18:57:07

im afraid this is the norm nowadays for many of us.
has happened several times round here. unremarkable, compared with pre-booked patient transport failing to take patient for hosp appt. which has also happened twice recently.
it is so draining trying to deal with anything to do with nhs.

mumofmadboys Fri 31-Jan-20 19:01:19

It is not the end of a GP day yet. They may well still ring.

Hetty58 Fri 31-Jan-20 19:08:48

I tried this but happened to be out walking the dog when she called. I had to say sorry but I can't discuss things - as I'm walking with neighbours and have no privacy here.

Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 19:16:54

I'm not sure what you say is correct for this particular practice, mumb. If it is then patients should be told what the hours are.

Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 19:23:42

sallywally, I accept what you say as perfectly possible. Indeed, I wondered if that was the case, even though I think it unlikely. But if so a member of the clerical staff could have let me know. It is not a big urban practice where people are run ragged. If there is time for someone to call and tell me to make an appointment then there is time for someone to call and apologise but tell me it's not possible for the GP to call.

When I made the appointment with the reception person I asked "what time?" She responded "She [the GP] does not give a time. That's the problem." The main GP of the practice was able to give a half-hour slot two years ago. I doubt things have changed that much meantime.

I do not fault the GP on medical care and mine case is not a major issue. I do fault the practice on communications and reasonable expectations of patients.

GrandmaMoira Fri 31-Jan-20 19:31:19

I think I have been lucky in comparison. I'm at a new practice so don't know what is usual there but on ringing for my blood test results around midday, the admin person said the GP needed to speak to me and would call between 1 and 3 pm. He called around 12.45.
This was after I had a blood test at another surgery on Monday which meant the bloods travelling to the hospital for testing, then the results going to the GP. By Tuesday I had a text saying to call for my results. I was impressed with the speed and efficiency.

Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 19:33:50

The silly thing is that I didn't feel any need for an appointment as I knew the GP would want to increase my dose and was fine with that.

I will consider for a while but I think I'll bring the matter up somehow somewhen because it's just tiresome and pesterifying, if you'll excuse my word-mongering. GP wants to do the right thing but then doesn't. Maybe the system just hasn't settled down yet after the change of staff.

Hey ho.

MissAdventure Fri 31-Jan-20 19:38:07

I think it's absolutely unacceptable.
I'd be really cross.

mumofmadboys Fri 31-Jan-20 20:04:12

From my days as a GP I remember having 85 patient contacts a day - some face to face appts and others telephone calls. It was frantic trying to get through the workload. Maybe the GP realised you were expecting an increase in dose of your tablet and felt communication wasn't necessary?

Doodledog Fri 31-Jan-20 20:23:45

I really dislike the telephone system. How many of us can ensure privacy all day? My surgery now only does telephone appointments unless a GP decides (as a result of a telephone conversation) that you need an appointment, so you have to wait to speak to them, then take more time off for the appointment if necessary.

I understand that if you need a blood (or other) test then it makes sense for the doctor to have the results ahead of the appointment, but often that is not the case, and there seems to be no consideration of the fact that people have to go to work, or might be surrounded by family or others and not able to have a sensitive conversation.

Our GPs don't give a time either - you can book a call online, but they can happen at any time of day, so it is impossible to plan the day around a call.

You aren't guaranteed a call, either. You have ring the surgery at 8.00, and hope to get through. If you don't (and everyone is ringing in at that time) you have to try again the next day. 8.00 is when a lot of people are commuting to work, so people will often be late in and still not have an appointment or a consultation.

I know there are cuts, but there must be many people whose problems are made worse because of an inability to access the GP service. It's very frustrating, and (apart from the human aspect) must cost the NHS money to treat people whose illnesses have not been nipped in the bud.

Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 20:47:29

That's possible, mumb, even though it was presumably the GP who wanted me to make the appointment in the first place and told the receptionist to call me. Whatever. It's still rude to just not communicate. A quick call, or even an email, from clerical staff would have been fine.

In the fourteen years we've been with this practice, I've only once had to request an urgent appointment (for my daughter, not me) but even so I can't remember an occasion when I haven't been able to get a face-to-face appointment the same day as I've called, even when I've said it wasn't urgent. Therefore I'm having trouble believing that all of a sudden the practice and the GPs (two) have started to have frantic timetables. This doesn't mean that they haven't but I think you will understand my dubiousness.

mumofmadboys Fri 31-Jan-20 20:57:52

Practices vary no end Baggs. I worked in a deprived area and the demand for appts was huge.

SirChenjin Fri 31-Jan-20 21:05:19

Our GP offers telephone appointments which are a godsend as I work full time over twenty miles away. Whilst I’m sure they do their utmost to call at the allocated time they and their clerical staff are incredibly busy and occasionally things will slip - either they’ll call back the next day or I’ll call and ask for an update. It happens to me at work too - I’ll schedule calls at work, something crops up, and I have to email when I’m next able to and reschedule. The best laid plans etc.

I hope you manage to speak to them soon.

Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 21:06:08

Your sentence: "You aren't guaranteed a call, either," doodledog, struck me as pertinent. If that's the system my GP is adopting then I don't think I'll make telephone appointments at all.

The thing with the current episode is odd. My GP has already increased the dosage of the medication in question. She explained to me in a face to face appointment a few weeks ago that adjustments might be necessary (although some confusion (mine!) was caused by her not specifying clearly that I was to take the new meds as well as the old ones). The dose has already been increased once and one of the clerical staff just rang and told me that there would be a new prescription to collect (my prescrips go straight to the pharmacy near my place of work). Since then I've had more tests done and the staff person rang to tell me again that a new prescrip had been made. I just thought fine, I'll collect it next week, so was a bit nonplussed by the request for me to make an appointment.

I think it's a communication problem more than anything. Hey ho again.

Doodle Fri 31-Jan-20 21:10:54

I too worked in a massive practice and realise there are several reasons why a GP might not call but I do think it is worth a call to the practice to find out what went wrong. In your case Baggs it wasn’t necessarily serious but someone else could be waiting for an phone call regarding something urgent. I know it is likely they would phone again if that is the case but I still think it’s worth finding out what went wrong with the system

Baggs Fri 31-Jan-20 21:13:57

I think you're right, doodle. I will bring the matter up at some point. Right now I'm going to sleep on it.

Thanks for all the replies, everyone.

dragonfly46 Fri 31-Jan-20 21:19:08

We are given a time when the GP will call. If they haven’t rung within an hour I ring them.

Sallywally1 Fri 31-Jan-20 21:37:08

As mentioned above I work at a GP practice, but am also a patient. I recently received a message informing me that if I did not make an appointment then they could not continue to prescribe my BP meds. I tried patient access - no appointments. Tried to ring - always engaged. As an NHS employee I have endless sympathy with patients as I am one myself! PS I cannot ring for an appointment as I am at work!

Baggs Sat 01-Feb-20 11:07:02

I've written a letter to the practice manager explaining what happened and what didn't happen. It has not affected me as far as health care is concerned but I wouldn't like this scenario to affect someone else who might have serious worries. I suspect there was a communications blip within the practice. There was certainly one between the practice and me about which I've said that I was "a bit miffed".

MrBaggs has taken the letter to post on his way to his art class this morning.

annodomini Sat 01-Feb-20 11:17:55

So far, if a GP has given me a time when he will ring, he has done so. One time, he was a bit early ringing and reached me while I was still sitting in a restaurant with Gnet friends. I had a friendly conversation and mentioned that there was another issue I'd like to speak to him about and he gave me an appointment that very afternoon. No complaints there!

gillybob Sat 01-Feb-20 11:20:30

We now have the ridiculous “Ask my GP” system at our practise .

First you have to log in to the system (assuming it’s live that is - it is often offline)
Then you have to explain your problem in a few words ( restricted character count )
Then moving along a few pages you get to type a bit more.
Then you have to keep checking your emails all day to watch for a reply ( could be up to 24 hours or even 48 hours at busy times)
Then ( if you are lucky ) you will be offered a telephone appointment but no time slot .
If you are fortunate enough to catch the call you will be either fobbed off or offered a face to face appointment .

Brilliant eh? hmm

lucywinter Sat 01-Feb-20 11:31:19

Baggs why didn't you wait till just before closing time for the practice and ring them and ask what had happened to your promised telephone call? If they had fobbed you off you could have expressed your dissatisfaction about it.

Good luck with the outcome of your letter of complaint.

JuliaM Sat 01-Feb-20 11:39:10

I booked a Gp telephone appointment earlier this week to get an update on my elderly fathers test results and future treatment. The receptionist said that this would be an afternoon call for yesterday, Friday. I actually got the call around 9.30am in the morning, which rather surprised me as this is normally a very busy time for face to face GP appointments at the surgery.
Another thing that l have noticed lately, is the amount of appointments covered by other medical staff than the GPs themselves. This is a very large fairly rural practice, full medical centre plus various clinics and even a minor surgery unit. Several times when l have visited lately l have been booked in to see the Nurse Practitioner, of which they now have three staff trained to this level. My Daughter visited earlier in the week and was seen by a medic who just styles himself as Mr. J.Smith (changed to protect identity) who’s qualification is a Paramedic. They then have a couple of Associate Doctors, young newly qualified Doctors undertaking their GP training, who have to have their work checked and assessed by one of the other GPs either during the appointment if they call them in for advice, or via a supervision session later in the day. All these posts where originally covered by full time GPs and the odd Locum GP should someone be off sick, on holiday, away on maternity leave, or undertaking further training and updates away from the practice. All these people are dedicated to their jobs, but long gone are the days where if you booked a Doctors appointment it was actually a fully qualified experienced GP who you got seen by on the day.