Gransnet forums


Getting through to a doctor

(155 Posts)
PinkCakes Tue 29-Jun-21 13:09:47

I'd been trying to get through to my husband's GP surgery (I go to a different surgery) for an hour and 20 minutes - it was engaged all that time - and then when I DID get through, I was put in the queue, position 8! I waited, and when I was in position 2, the line went dead! And now it's engaged again! It's ridiculous.

PinkCakes Thu 01-Jul-21 08:47:16

Further to my original thread - after completing an eConsult form online, stating the problem, answering the many questions on there, the response was "someone will contact you (husband) by 6.30 pm 30th June" (a day and a half later). Guess what - nobody did get in touch. I've submitted a form to MY GP surgery, to register my husband there. He's now at home as his feet at too painful to stand all day at work (in a factory).

I should add - my husband isn't incapable of doing all this himself, but as a typical man, says he doesn't want a fuss grin

maddyone Thu 01-Jul-21 08:52:10

Well said.
It’s a wonder any GP wants to work in this country the way patients speak of them. No wonder so many are leaving. Everyone should read the full thread and see how it comes across, and then ask themselves why anyone would want to work here.

Sparklefizz Thu 01-Jul-21 08:57:10

maddyone But surely you have to admit that some of these complaints are justified as it seems that some surgeries are badly run.

My own GP is .. or was ... lovely, but I haven't been able to have any contact with him for more than 18 months. I accept and appreciate how hard doctors and nurses are working at the moment, but I have multiple health problems and need continuity which I'm not getting. In fact, if you read my previous post, I am being treated quite shabbily and I know I'm not the only one at my practice.... but now is not the time to try and change surgeries.

maddyone Thu 01-Jul-21 09:19:32

You have put your post across nicely though Sparklefizz which many don’t. It seems to be a litany of complains from many posters, which is hard to take if you have hard working GPs in your family, and you know how many hours they put in, and how hard they work. Also much misinformation abounds out there.
Complaints such as what are they doing all day, why are they allowed to work part time, some GP practices are in NHS but others aren’t (what! misinformation) they should be forced to work for the NHS and not allowed to choose to leave till so many years done, why can’t I see a GP face to face, complaints that no one is in the waiting room when they do get to see a GP face to face, etc etc etc and on and on and on. Do all these people seriously think GPs are avoiding work? It’s laughable if it weren’t in black and white in front of me.

maddyone Thu 01-Jul-21 09:26:37

Until and unless we get more GPs the access problems will continue, though why anyone would want to be a GP given what the public think about them amazes me. They do know what the public are saying, they talk about it.
It is not the fault of individual GPs/Practices that there are too few GPs.
My son-in-law and daughter have gone to work abroad as GPs as I said up thread. Neither of their surgeries have been able to replace them. Says it all really. That’s not the fault of government or anyone else. The jobs have been advertised, but no one wants them. Why do you think that is?

Greeneyedgirl Thu 01-Jul-21 09:31:47

I think regardless of the pandemic we are witnessing a major change in the way general practice is carried out in this country. There is a shortage of GPs and the demands are growing. There is more involvement with private consortiums taking over practices, and the old style face to face consultations will be a thing of the past. There will be more extensive triaging (and filtering) by nurses and similar before you even get as far as a medic. This has been coming for some time preceding covid and will continue apace.

Shropshirelass Thu 01-Jul-21 09:34:00

I haven’t needed to contact my GP but my husband has. He was asked to go in to see the GP and was then referred to a consultant who he has also seen face to face. We have no problems at all. The phone lines are busy but we always get through, the GP phones back at an arranged time, works well for us.

nanna8 Thu 01-Jul-21 09:43:07

Sometimes problems are caused by the ‘watchdogs’ manning the phones rather than the actual GPS. Some of them are most unpleasant. Remind me of some of the airport staff.

Lovetopaint037 Thu 01-Jul-21 09:44:03


I'm another one wondering what the GPs are doing all day. Are they all busy doing Covid jabs or what? It's easy to see the nurse at our surgery but you can't get to see a doctor for love nor money. Does anyone know?

Exactly this. The doctors we had before and are partners in the practice have disappeared. If you are lucky you may get the one very good salaried doctor or a locam who change all the time. Prescription reviews are done by someone else and only on the phone. However, I was seen after a phone consultation early last year to diagnose a hernia (salaried doctor). Then recently by a locam after a consultation. But oh! Where are our doctors. In the surgery there appear to be a couple of nurses and a single doctor. It is a big practise.

PinkCakes Thu 01-Jul-21 12:42:20

extra news - I rang my husband's surgery again today - 16th in the queue so gave up and rang later, was 10th in the queue, got to speak to a receptionist after 45 minutes. I told her about the eConsult thing, that nobody had rung. She said they're having a lot of problems with that particular system. I stressed that my husband is now off work, as his heels are too painful to stand up all day. She said a GP will ring him later. We'll see......

Cambia Thu 01-Jul-21 12:50:34

We did pay for our treatment but it is quite possible we could have got it free using our global health card. However we can afford to pay as it is not exorbitant.
Speaking to a Greek yesterday they said they can see the doctor, get any blood test done, x rays etc all in the same street and usually same day. Results are within a few days.
We received a cd with all results on it, ready to take back to our Uk doctor if necessary. Doctors do home visits if needed.
Two years ago I was in hospital in Crete after I picked up a bug in Peru. I had spent six weeks previously in the Uk and they had not been able to find out what was wrong. After collapsing here, the medical staff here assured me that they would find out. They did and after three days on a drip and antibiotics (not approved in the UK) I was able to recover.
There is no nursing care here in Greece, your family are expected to do this but the medical care is second to none.
I honestly think if I have any problems in the future,I will fly back here.

My surgery used to be so good in England but it is just impossible now to speak to anyone. There has been an error on the consult online page for the past two months, so you cannot contact them through this and the NHS app only allows you to make COVID appointments for vaccinations.

Greece is not a wealthy country and they certainly don’t receive the money the UK health service does, so what is growing wrong?

Perhaps we need a gransnet campaign!

fairfraise Thu 01-Jul-21 13:06:43

Maddyone you (and another poster on here) are quite right about the shortage of doctors and the size of the workload they have. I am fortunate in that my surgery is only 10 minutes walk away and on the two occasions I needed to e-consult I've had replies relatively quickly.

Saetana Thu 01-Jul-21 16:44:46

I have to say our GP practice is excellent - my husband has had several face to face nurse appointments in the last few weeks and when he needed to speak to a doctor they rang him back just 2 hours later. Our practice are happy to do face to face if the patient prefers, and obviously if its necessary as well. We do have a large practice though with a dozen doctors plus even more nurses and nursing assistants. They are even catching up with the missed annual clinics/exams for COPD, diabetes etc. Honestly can't fault them.

moobox Thu 01-Jul-21 18:22:09

At my mother's practice the phone wasn't answered, even to the random medical professionals who seem to get sent out instead of doctors. Eventually, my sister rammed on the surgery door, and only got attention when she filled out a form, which said "My mother is feeling so bad today she is threatening to commit suicide". The doctor called, and then visited straight away, but only when she had filled in the form.

PinkCakes Thu 01-Jul-21 20:24:26

* the last word* from me now - the GP rang my husband at 2pm, he told her he thought he might have Plantar Faciitis, and she prescribed Naproxen (I take them for rotor cuff impingement) without asking him anything.

As I say, he's registering with the surgery I go to - but at least he's got a bit of relief from the pain.

Saetana Thu 01-Jul-21 20:59:27

Oh don't try to pull that one Bunny1 - the NHS has been struggling for decades, under different governments. The current Conservative party have poured billions into the NHS - with more to come - most of the posts in this thread are the reason newly qualified doctors do not want to be GPs, and older qualified GPs are either moving abroad or retiring early. I get so sick of the people who think their GPs are getting paid a ton of money for a few hours - they clearly have NO idea just how many hours a GP works. Dealing with patients is just one part of it - the paperwork is crippling and seriously time consuming. Our old GP was a friend and he also retired early due to ill health from working way too many hours in a small practice. Don't criticise what you do not understand - yes I feel for those of you who have poor GP practices but make sure you complain to your surgery or the local NHS Trust, its no good just bitching about it online!

Magnolia62 Fri 02-Jul-21 00:15:39

Our surgery now has 36 GPS on its website, though some may be part time. I eventually managed to get through to a receptionist this morning after being in a long queue. My problem, though not urgent I think, has persisted for maybe 8 months. Twice I have had to send pics of my persistent, unsightly rash, and received each time, a phone call discussion and medication, neither of which have worked. My next phone call back will be on 13th July. If GPS are seeing so few people face to face, I wonder why we have to wait so long for a phone call.

Esspee Fri 02-Jul-21 06:41:43

This thread has reminded me that I need to sit down and write to congratulate our surgery on the excellent care we have received during the pandemic.
Doctor callbacks within half an hour, asked to come in to the surgery for a face to face appointment, follow up calls from doctor, referral to a specialist etc.
I like the new triage setup. Hopefully it helps weed out the hypochondriacs to allow the doctors to concentrate on other patients.

effalump Sat 03-Jul-21 17:12:00

I want the part of NI that goes to the NHS refunded. My mother is at deaths door and the only way I can speak to a GP is to go through NHS111 after listening to their recorded messages about covid (for ages) and then the recorded messages asking if you've got a dental problem (ages again) then speaking to an operative, then being referred to a clinician and finally (hours later) having one of their GP's ring you.

Candelle Wed 07-Jul-21 13:35:27

I doubt this will be seen but as I am feeling better now, I wanted to respond, in particular to Growstuff

I absolutely understand what it is like to not be able to make contact with one's surgery, particularly when ill and feeling vulnerable. I have, a while ago when my practice had a wobble and was poor, been in the situation of not being able to speak to anyone at the surgery when I needed to do so and remember the frustration.

However, the constant ridiculous comments that appear on here, such as 'the surgery was empty', are very trying. For the avoidance of doubt, the surgery would have been empty because there is a pandemic. Apparently some Gransnetters are completely happy to sit in a small waiting room with other patients who have who knows what in the midst of a pandemic.

If a patient needs to seen, they still will be, however, a clinical judgement needs to be made.

If it is the contact per se that is the problem, I will repeat that one should email or write in to the Practice Manager (I am presuming that one can't get through by 'phone). I don't think I have mentioned this before but why not join the Patients' Association attached to your surgery? Once a member, you can actively engage with the Practice Manager and try to help the surgery to try and do whatever it is that you would like changed. Perhaps they don't have enough ancillary staff or telephone lines. Help sort the problem out.

However, please do not encourage criticism of our doctors. I have written before that from time to time everyone engages in 'bashing', this could be teachers (they only work from 9 to 3 and have umpteen weeks' holiday per year, don't they?!), or perhaps police (they sit in the police station all day as we don't see them on the streets) or ... doctors.

Certain newspaper love to sell more copies by whipping the public up, not understanding that the morale of medical staff is extremely low. Ask a medical student if they would like to train to become a GP and the answer is probably 'no'. They, on their secondments into surgeries have seen the hours that are required and many now re-consider their initial choice and choose a hospital post instead. I understand that GP training is being redesigned i.e. shortened. The Government are trying to recruit GPs but I would rather have one who has had a long and rigorous training as before, wouldn't you?

Read Mirren (30 June at 11.14), Saetana, 1 July at 16.44 or Maddyone 1 July 22.21 for some facts - the misinformation regarding the salary of a GP's and the way surgeries are run is just mind-boggling.

It is extremely easy to sit and bash off an inflammatory message on a forum such as this but all one is doing is upsetting people and spreading complete misinformation. There are a few of us who understand what is involved in being a GP and try to give some pertinent facts but hey, who wants to hear facts?

Growstuff, I was not confrontational, merely pointing out that comments such as the empty waiting rooms/doctors are paid hundreds of thousands a year/GPs only work part time on and on are untrue. Some of us need to refute these comments.

Patients will always be ill and need medical care but carry on with the way we are, including chronic under funding in every direction and there will not be any doctors for all of us.

Finally, there will, unfortunately be poorly run surgeries and poor GPs - they are just people, some competent, some not. The thing to do is to try and help these surgeries improve - vote with one's feet if necessary - or please speak to the Practice Manager or/and join the Patients' Association to help change things but stop bashing these extremely hard-working doctors.

Would you want to work the hours (often seven day weeks/working even when in any off time) that our GP's currently do? I wouldn't. Couldn't.

NanaP71 Thu 08-Jul-21 15:08:12

Last September I had a phone appointment with Dr they’re not doing video call or any appointments still. I had a really bad throat couldn’t physically swallow. He said sounds like tonsillitis so gave me huge pink pills to swallow haha. I ended up ringing 111 who sent an ambulance. I had an abscess behind my tonsils that had 90% blocked my throat. 3 days in hospital, not good. When are things going to change. Just not good enough

Oldbat1 Thu 08-Jul-21 15:40:37

Our surgery on Monday of this week has requested any patient with a problem please call 111. They are not able to cope with anymore telephone or email requests due to shortage of staff due to sickness/holidays etc. They hope to continue as normal next Monday. They have been trying to recruit Doctors without success and this is in a desirable area 3miles from lovely coast.

maddyone Thu 08-Jul-21 16:09:48

What did you expect your GP to do that would have been any different? He/she correctly diagnosed the condition and prescribed treatment. Did you tell the doctor that you couldn’t swallow? Because if you couldn’t swallow you would have rapidly become dehydrated, as you say you couldn’t swallow anything, including liquid, at all. Perhaps you failed to communicate properly with the doctor as he/would have said they were going to prescribe antibiotics, did you not say you couldn’t swallow at all? In any event, our wonderful NHS treated you and made you well so you could on here and complain about it.

growstuff Thu 08-Jul-21 16:14:52

If the GP had been able to examine NanaP71 he/she would presumably have spotted the abcess and would possibly have prescribed antibiotics or referred her to hospital. It sounds as though the condition was not correctly diagnosed.

growstuff Thu 08-Jul-21 16:23:54

Candelle I have never ever been somebody who has claimed that GPs aren't working. A very close friend is a GP and I know how hard she works.

My surgery does not accept any emails. I have complained to the Practice Manager about the appointment system and received no response. I have also complained to the CCG and received an anodyne response. It isn't just that the surgery is overstretched. The receptionists are rude and the system itself is inefficient and wastes time.

I am a member of the local patient panel, but it hasn't met for at least two years.

This surgery regularly receives poor feedback in NHS surveys and was "failed" in an inspection two years ago. It passed the next inspection, but nothing had changed. All it had done was tick a couple more boxes.

I know I'm not the only one who has complained, but we are regularly dismissed and complaints just aren't taken seriously. Many people in this area opt for one of the private GP services which have been set up, but which I can't afford.

There is no other choice in this small town. We have to put up with it and I'm actually very fed up of people seemingly claiming I'm making a fuss about nothing.