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Five-week wait for a GP appointment

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Thursday 12 May 2016 11.01pm
My wife tried to make an appointment for our three-month-old baby to see the GP on 27 April. The earliest appointment was 31 May! Only after making a formal complaint to the surgery was the appointment eventually brought forward to 10 May. The matter for which the appointment was sought wasn't in itself urgent but was a matter of concern for my wife and we didn't feel it was fair or appropriate to insist on an emergency appointment. We're hardly regular attenders - this was the baby's first ever visit to the GP and my wife, older two children and I between us have probably visited the GP five times in the last 15 years.

The surgery concerned - which I won't name, but which may be identifiable by the fact of its "sick queue" as, instead of releasing any appointments, they ask patients to turn up at 8.00 am and to form an orderly line which extends into the road - seems to think it is acceptable for a five-week wait or, put another way, almost half of my baby son's life, citing "NHS cuts".

Is this sort of shocking service commonplace elsewhere? Does anyone have any suggestions of good practices at the Bricklayers' Arms end of TBR?
Friday 13 May 2016 8.13am
I have slagged Falmouth road off in the past-with good reason- but they seem to be getting their act together a bit better now-My husband had a telephone appointment on Tuesday for a repeat prescription and the doc wanted to see him-he was able to make an appointment for yesterday.
Friday 13 May 2016 8.26am
Thanks for the heads up, Dee Dee. Falmouth Road isn't far from where we are and could be an option for us. What you've said seems a very reasonable timescale for an appointment.
Friday 13 May 2016 9.04am
Wow you got an appointment! If it's the same surgery as we use you were lucky. I called earlier in the week for a non-urgent appointment for our two year old daughter and was told that the system wasn't open to take any bookings. I was told to call at 8am the following day when we might possibly get seen, which is no use as I work hence trying to book something in advance.
Friday 13 May 2016 9.27am
to be honest from talking to people I think most surgeries are pretty bad in our area-a couple of years ago I thought about moving to Decima street only to be told horror stories of long waits there as well, similar with some other local surgeries

with babies I would suggest going along to see health visitor or to baby clinic-in the past I have found that if there is a concern they will usually arrange for you to see the doc when you are there
Friday 13 May 2016 10.00am
If our GP (New Mill Street) is typical, it seems like they really don't want to book non-urgent advance appointments. If you ask for one they will try to put you off and if pressed will then grudgingly give a date several weeks hence. On the other hand, if you 'phone at 7:30 am on the dot it's rarely a problem to get an appointment same day. I've just given up on feeling guilty about using the latter approach to get an appointment for a non-urgent matter.

To me it feels like this is a product of some aspect of the management system that they (the practices) have to work under. For instance maybe it's to their benefit in some way to be able to show that all their time is taken up with urgent appointments?
Friday 13 May 2016 10.02am
It seems the cover of the surgery concerned has been blown. It is indeed the surgery that you have both guessed! The HV and baby clinic has been excellent, but it was something the doctor was needed for.

Michael, please do kick up an almighty fuss. It is the only way you'll get an appointment. The GPs there are actually very good - we saw Dr Lipinski, who was excellent, and nothing was too much trouble for him - but that's academic if you can't see one.
Friday 13 May 2016 10.45am
I think you're right, Dave. I hadn't thought about it like that, but I now wonder if there is some financial benefit to the surgery in being able to show they are so busy with urgent appointments.

A small part of me wonders whether the "sick queue", whether physical (like our current surgery) or on the telephone, is a proud display to anyone passing or calling of how busy the surgery is. It seems like my current surgery is actually proud that people form a long and winding queue outside each morning. Perhaps I'm being silly there. I think I am.
Friday 13 May 2016 10.56am
I'm with Decima Street. Turn up and queue early in the morning to get a same day appointment.
Isn't the immediate problem that the surgery will register new patients although they are already "full". Because more patients means more money for the practice.
Friday 13 May 2016 4.36pm
To make any parent wait for appointment for a child is terrible, but for an infant? Disgusting.
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