Some patients have to make FOUR HUNDRED calls to get through to a GP

Some patients have to make FOUR HUNDRED calls to get through to a GP – only to be told they can’t have a face-to-face appointment

  • Patients ringing GPs hundreds of times only to be refused face time with doctors 
  • One individual rang 390 times to change medication before she was answered
  • Another claims they rang their local practice 269 times before they got through 

Patients are calling their GP surgeries up to 400 times to get through – only to be told they cannot have a face-to-face appointment with their doctor, it has emerged.

One individual who needed to change some of her husband’s cancer medication said she rang 390 times before her call was answered.

And Mark Cahillane, 63, from Swindon, Wiltshire, claimed he and his wife rang their local practice Ashington House Surgery 269 times before they got through.

In another shocking case, a woman called Abbey Meads Medical Practice in Swindon nearly 400 times trying to get her cancer-suffering husband a face-to-face appointment

His wife had been experiencing problems with her ankle. Mr Cahillane said he had been given ‘the run around’ in his efforts to get an appointment.

He said: ‘My wife rang on the landline and it took 45 minutes before she could get through. And then the receptionist was saying that they can’t make a face-to-face appointment until we speak to a doctor. You’re just going around in circles.’

They called the surgery the following day and waited another 55 minutes before they finally managed to speak to a member of staff. Mr Cahillane added: ‘Then there’s a call queue which was another 15 minutes.

‘And again, they said they can’t do a face-to-face appointment, “you have to wait for a doctor to call you”…

‘You’re trying to get things sorted out because the NHS is trying to catch up on the backlog of patients. My wife has a very bad ankle and it’s serious and she needs to get it sorted out.

‘I was trying to be polite and calm. It was as stressful as anything.’ Mr Cahillane said while his wife was forced to wait for hours to be contacted, they were pleased with their conversation with the doctor.

In another shocking case, a woman called Abbey Meads Medical Practice in Swindon nearly 400 times trying to get her cancer-suffering husband a face-to-face appointment. The woman said her husband had needed an appointment with his family doctor in order to change his medication.

Dean Mills, assistant practice manager at Ashington House Surgery, said the pandemic had seen new working methods introduced

She said: ‘I just redialled for 390 times – but before I’ve had over 425 – and then you get put in a queue and you still have to wait.’ It took her three days to finally get through to an operator and book an appointment.

Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust, which is responsible for the running of the Abbey Meads surgery, apologised and said the delays had been the result of ‘significant pressure’ on their staff.

Dean Mills, assistant practice manager at Ashington House Surgery, said the pandemic had seen new working methods introduced.

He said: ‘Patients can play their part in easing the pressure by calling outside of the busiest times, such as first thing in the morning, and making use of alternative healthcare services, such as NHS 111 and local pharmacies.’

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