GP waiting times: Your experiences of the battle to get a doctor's appointment

Ringing dozens of times to try to get an appointment, waiting weeks for a call back or sitting on hold only to find the diary is full for the day.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 11:45 am

These are the experiences of Yorkshire Evening Post readers who shared their stories when we asked whether they had experience issues with waiting times for GP appointments

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Leeds experiencing 'record demand' across all health services amid growing impac...

It comes as a report drawn up by NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group reveals GPs across the city have seen “very high demand” for patients, with surgeries offering 15 per cent more appointments in March 2021 compared to March 2019.

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Readers have told us about their struggles with securing a GP appointment. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

NHS Digital data analysed by the YEP shows that in May alone, the city’s GP practices experienced 375,873 recorded consultations – higher than pre-pandemic levels.

But the figures also show more than 23,000 patients waited between eight and 14 days for a face-to-face appointment with practice staff that month.

And a total of 9,575 patients waited more than 28 days for an appointment, either over the phone, virtual, home visit or face-to-face.

Here's what readers told us when we asked about their experiences of GP waiting times...

Chris Ellis: "I couldn't get through on the phone, tried and tried, engaged all day long, so eventually I went to the surgery to try to get an appointment and was then was told a doctor would ring me the next day. Eventually I got an appointment for the next day - it took three days. I was told I needed a blood test and the blood test appointment was for two weeks later so I went to local hospital for it. It took five minutes for a blood test. What's going on with our doctor's surgeries now ?"

Doreen Dunning: "My experience is woeful but I am not alone. I am 96 and on three occasions have had worrying symptoms which I have described to the doctor over the phone but each time I have not been offered an appointment."

Olivia Lauren Jeffers: "Phone them at 7.59am to be told the surgery lines are not open yet, phone them as soon as it strikes 8am to listen to the busy tone, 32 times later finally get through to be on hold nearly 40 minutes to then be told there's no appointments left and to go to the walk-in centre."

Fatima Zahra Bekkali: "I called to make an appointment, they said I have to wait for a week just for the doctor to call me back and then he will decide if he's gonna book me an appointment or not."

Catherine Wilson: "I really needed to see a GP. I rang at 8 am when they opened. It was engaged for five mins and when I got through I was fourth in the queue. At 8.08am I got through and was told all appointments for the day gone! They said start again at 8am tomorrow but it was just the same then. Personally I think GPs are hiding behind the pandemic and making the most of only doing phone appointments and in my case not even that!"

Michelle Williamson: "You can’t see a doctor. Wait for two weeks for a phone call. It’s about time they started seeing people again and get back to normal. You can visit a dentist, opticians, hospital appointments. Why are they any different? It’s about time the Government got tough with them. It’s ridiculous. That’s why A&E is so busy. People don’t know what else to do."

Beryl Thompson: "I am pleased to say that our surgery are doing their best. You ring up and give a brief description to the advisor and then a doctor rings you back. This is usually within the hour. I agree with others, you cannot describe some problems over the telephone."

Patricia Heritage: "Tried twice to get appointment with any GP from my practice. Could not get past receptionist. Went round in circles for a week ringing 111 and minor injuries as could not walk and in great pain. Finally in desperation went to St James's A&E where my foot was x-rayed and I actually saw a doctor. Miraculous. Lost all confidence in GP. They will be ringing me soon to arrange diabetic foot check because they get extra money for this. Why should I go to them.? They could not even speak to me."

Ami Francis-Walker: "If you don't ring between 8am and 8.01am, you've no chance of an appointment yet when you do ring it's busy and then they say it's full. Joke. Had to go through 111 for my son to be able to get an appointment."

Liz McGregor: "A nightmare get told to ring 8am in the morning, by the time you get through all appointments gone and you're told to ring back at 2pm. When you ring, you get told to ring back at 8am the next day."

Julie Barcoe: "We are hearing that A&E department's are very busy as are the walk-in centres. Why? Because GP surgeries are not seeing as many people and the phone lines are always busy. When you eventually get through, a doctor rings you back, diagnoses your symptoms and prescribes something without even seeing you or they tell you to go to A&E or a walk-in centre."

Caroline Walker: "I rang for an appointment the other week and I was 64th in the queue."

Rachael Kimberley: "Can't get an appointment. You call, but the receptionist can't make an appointment for a doctor to call you. I had some test results I rang for, got told I needed to speak with a doctor. 'Please can you make me an appointment for a telephone consultation?' I asked. 'No', she said. 'I can't do this, the doctor needs to call you to make the appointment.' What??? If the doctor is going to call me to make an appointment anyway, can we discuss the results and job done? 'No', she said. 'The doctor will call you to make the appointment to discuss the results.' Yes, that's exactly what happened, the doctor called, we made an appointment for a phone call, she rang me back an hour later and discussed the results! A complete waste of time and NHS resources.

Donna Ward-Smith: "What’s the point of ringing? You never see a doctor of your choice. Instead you get a locum doctor who knows nothing about you and hasn’t the time to read up about you. Tried 48 times and gave up. You then end up trying to treat yourself but end up worse. Heart issues have been missed, people are giving up trying to get through to GPs!"

Naomi Nelson: "I phoned my GP on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8.15am and no one picked up until on any days before 10.05am, only for me to be told there were no appointments available. My surgery is abysmal. We need a European system whereby you can get antibiotics over the counter from a pharmacist. Still have a chest infection and trying to ride it out!!

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