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You can’t book appointments in advance, GPs warn patients in latest sign of crisis in the NHS

  • Three GP surgeries have banned patients from booking advance time slots
  • The 21,000 patients at Swindon surgeries now face scramble at 8.30am
  • Rule is necessary because of increase in demand and shortage of doctors
  • Patients at the three surgeries have branded the new system a ‘nightmare’

Three GP surgeries have banned patients from making advance appointments to see a doctor in the latest sign of the crisis in the Health Service.

The 21,000 patients at the Swindon surgeries now face a scramble at 8.30am every day to book one of the few slots available for that day.

Abbey Meads Medical Group says it was forced to bring in the rule because of an increase in demand coupled with a shortage of doctors.

Three GP surgeries have banned patients from making advance appointments to see a doctor in the latest sign of the crisis in the Health Service (file image)

The policy covers three practices with 12 GPs on the payroll. Patients at the surgeries last night said the new system was a ‘nightmare’.

Jamie Walsh, 32, said: ‘It’s a joke. A question that needs to be asked is why are they running three surgeries with no doctors?’ Miaya Bryan, 37, added: ‘It’s a nightmare. The staff are really nice but when you go in there the waiting times are ridiculous.’

Patients at the surgeries last night said the new system was a ‘nightmare’ (file image)
Patients at the surgeries last night said the new system was a ‘nightmare’ (file image)

Another patient, 43, who needs regular appointments, said: ‘It’s disgusting that we have to phone up on the day.

‘My partner phoned up at 8.30am and got through at 8.45am. She was told she should have called at 8.30am.

‘I won’t be able to make appointments due to work arrangements because of this.’

The health group, which includes Abbey Meads Medical Practice, Penhill Surgery and Crossroads Surgery, said in a statement to its patients: ‘There is a national shortage of GPs and Swindon is not immune to this.

‘These appointments are valuable and to try to avoid wastage, at a time when we are so short of staff, we are asking patients to call and book on the day they need to be seen.

‘This is for a trial period only and if successful will remain as part of our policy.’ It also pleaded with its patients, around 15 per cent of whom are over 65, to use other sources of information, such as the 111 non-emergency line, pharmacies, and NHS websites.

The statement added: ‘Our receptionists have been instructed by the GPs to ask you questions regarding your reason for your appointment.

‘This is to direct you to the most appropriate clinician, thus saving your time and ours.’

A Care Quality Commission inspection last year revealed patients at the health group were having to wait three to four weeks for a ‘routine appointment’, and the organisation was said to ‘require improvement’.

The controversial new system has also been trialled at nearby Moredon Medical Centre.

Practice manager Sandra Pinnegar said: ‘There is a shortage of doctors and I think that is because the work load is getting bigger, the days are getting longer and the work is getting harder and patient demand is growing.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3510084/You-t-book-appointments-advance-GPs-warn-patients-latest-sign-crisis-NHS.html

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