Portsmouth patients say GP system needs a shake-up

Community health day planned to educate residents

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PATIENTS have spoken out about problems they face getting appointments at their doctors’ surgeries.

People across the area say they are forced into long waits and when they do get an appointment, it may not be with their doctor.

Rene Grote, 73, from Buckland. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (141497-050)

Rene Grote, 73, from Buckland. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (141497-050)

It is the latest in our series of reports on a looming GP crisis in which doctors say the profession is at breaking point.

Dennis Udy, 60, of Hayling Avenue, Copnor, is a patient at Baffins Surgery in Portsmouth.

He is frustrated at the wait involved to get an appointment at his practice.

He said: ‘I find the usual way of trying to get an appointment is impossible – whenever you ring they are fully booked.

‘I had a pain in my shoulder and was trying to make an appointment, but couldn’t get anything.

‘So I went to a walk-in centre and was told I had a serious shoulder injury and needed physiotherapy.

‘All I wanted was an appointment to see a GP to see what was wrong with me – it’s wrong to have to wait so long.’

Veryan Burcham is the practice manager. She said:’We have continued to adjust our appointments system following patient feedback and comments, to ensure patients have the ability to be seen on the same day, if they choose and if clinically appropriate, there is a duty GP to see any urgent patients between 8.30am to 6.30pm.

‘Pre-bookable appointments are also available up to four weeks in advance. We are investigating a telephone appointment booking system so patients do not have to wait in a telephone queue to book, cancel or change an appointment.’

Rene Grote, of Malins Road, Buckland, goes to the Kingston Crescent Surgery in Portsmouth.

The 73-year-old said: ‘I have a problem with balance and I just can’t seem to get an appointment.

‘I saw a doctor in May this year, and the time before that was in November. Between then I wasn’t able to see my doctor, but instead was offered phone calls.

‘If you can’t get in to see them, then how can they tell if you have deteriorated or not?’

Dr Mo Ka Wai, a practice partner, said that on Monday’s, a walk-in centre style clinic has been devised.

He said: ‘I have been doing this for four weeks and the feedback from patients and staff have been positive.

‘If it carries on being successful then it will be kept on.’

Carly Bacon, of Gosport, e-mailed in to say she found her wait ‘disgusting’ at the Gosport Medical Centre.

She said: ‘We need more GPs. It’s disgusting I have had to wait two weeks for an appointment for my six-year-old son.

‘They need have later appointments as a lot of people cannot get time off work. The whole GP service needs a big shake up.’

Reader Michael Robinson also thinks practices need to shake up the way they are run.

He said: ‘Most are open office hours, subsequently those that work are almost unable to see their GP without taking time off.

‘Businesses woke up years ago to the issue of being open and available when customers want you to be.

‘Doctors continually complain about people missing appointments, you see it almost any GP surgery written on the wall “last month X number of people did not turn up for their appointment”.

‘I appreciate that could be a matter of wasted resources, but the fact in the majority of cases it is not.

‘I have yet to go to a GP’s and get seen within 15 minutes of my booked appointment, often they are 30 or so minutes late.

‘Thank God a few people did miss the appointment or it might be an hour late.

‘And why does the receptionist never say “sorry we are running 25 minutes late?”.

‘GPs need to follow the rest of society and have some pretty basic customer service training.’

It wasn’t all bad news as Nicola-Jayne Chapman, of Henville Close, Gosport, spoke highly of the Brockhurst Medical Centre, in Gosport.

She said: ‘I have been registered with them since 1971.

‘The surgery is run by great reception staff and background staff, the doctors and nurses give you their full attention and go beyond the call of duty.

‘I have been very ill the last two years and all the staff at the surgery have been so supportive to me and my mother, we cannot fault them.’

Healthwatch meeting held to hear more views

A Patient support group will call a public meeting to hear more views on GP experiences.

Healthwatch Portsmouth said it will hold the event next month, following The News’ week-long investigation into a looming GP crisis.

As reported, doctors say they are working longer hours, that there are more patients than ever, more doctors are leaving the profession and not enough are entering as trainees.

Simon Haill, manager of Healthwatch Portsmouth, said: ‘We have seen a very mixed picture emerging.

‘There are significant areas of concern in a number of places, for example the time it can take for a patient to get an appointment and then not necessarily being able to see their own GP. On the other hand a significant number of surgeries do a first-class job, often under the most challenging circumstances.

The next Healthwatch meeting takes place on Wednesday July 9 at the Masonic Hall in Cosham at 2pm,where GPs will be discussed.