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Hi I wonder if anyone else has this problem since Covid?

The problem I have with GP appointments is I just can't get one to see them face to face. The GP I have been under for the best part of 40 years has retired due to ill health.

Since the pandemic, you phone for an appointment to "speak to doctor" but the line is constantly engaged. Then eventually if answered it is an automated message which usually tells you, "you are 19th in the queue, please hold"! If you are about 4th in the queue, you can wait up to 45 minutes. I called and the line was busy, I kept pressing redial and gave up when I got to 46th redial

I was in hospital last month for 16 days with cellulitis and was discharged on 17/3/23 after having a blood transfusion because my bloods were low.  I was given a script for iron tablets (my 4th) and for 10 days of antibiotics because I still had the cellulitis. Neither have done what they were meant to do. I have been to the Lymphodema Clinic and Physiotherapy Clinic and both told me they couldn't do anything until I had seen my GP and the cellulitis was gone. A GP was meant to call me yesterday morning at 9am. This was arranged on 21/4 at the surgery when I got more bloods done. The first available speak to doctor was 17/5 four weeks later. I waited all morning but I didn't get that call. I tried to call the surgery and I was 13th in the queue, I hung up. I have also had an endoscopy when they did 4 biopsies, I still don't know the result.

Has anyone changed their GP practise since their incurable cancer diagnosis or with all the problems I have, do you think another practise would take me on! I just feel as if I have been abandoned! Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks.

  • Morning

    It's a nightmare trying to see a doctor, and yours sounds awful. Like you i've had long waits on the phone, but our surgery like you to do an online consultation and then contact you with in the next 24hrs, which isn't so bad.

    In saying that there has been a couple of times i've had problems, i've told my SCN, she has called the surgery on my behalf and got it sorted. Once was to do with trying to get prescriptions, as they were dragging their feet with them, leaving me without pain relief. I think now they have 'flagged me',  i've not had a problem since. 

    If i were you and if you are able to, i would go down to the surgery and explain all that's happened and that you need to see a doctor.

    As far as changing to a different surgery, i don't see why they wouldn't take you on. Unfortunately though, all surgerys are in the same boat, but there's no harm in trying.

    Everyone is fed up with the way the surgeries are now since covid, why it's like it g... knows.

    I so hope you manage to see your doctor soon Fingers crossed

    Cat x

  • I think what Catmarel said is a good point..if you can manage to go there in person??? Or speak to your oncologist. about the problem??  

  • Hi

    Yep, access to the GP is a real nightmare.  You can't book appointments (days/weeks) in advance and then you can't get through on the phone.  If you turned-up in person they would tell you you have to phone up to book an appointment.  

    I believe there's strict rules about changing GP practice - you have to have moved recently or be new to the area.  Tried it with my son before he drove and it was difficult to get to our GP on public transport or bike.  

    Have you tried an auto-redial app on your mobile phone?  This grabs the free line when the receptionist finishes dealing with someone.   Also if the lines open at 8am then start phoning at 7:50am.   I use "Auto Redial".   It's really good and yes I do feel guilty using it because it's GP access based on how to wrangle the system / using technology to your advantage but needs must.  

    Or phone them at 3pm when no-one else does and explain they are blocking all your health care because you can't get an appt.  In my experience at my GP the lines were incredibly busy as you describe with a long queue until the afternoon.  But once there are no appts left then you can get to speak to a real person.  

    Another trick is to get your oncologist to phone up in the afternoon when the lines are free.  "Hello, this is Dr X from oncology at hospital Y calling on behalf of my patient Z who is registered at your practice & needs to access a GP appt.  Can I speak to the on-call Dr in the practice please?" is more influential than a patient phoning-in.  My onco did this for me once, "gets you past the receptionist" he said LOL. 

    Polite letter or even complaint to the GP practice.  

    Good luck.  

  • Thanks Cat, Pet & Mmum for taking the time to read and reply to my post.

    Cat, I was in the surgery getting bloods done when I explained the problem to the receptionist, that's when the appointment for 17/5 was made. I emailed them last night and got a reply saying no appointment was made for the 17th! I know it was made but what can I say!!  Cat & Pet, I will try to call my SCN or onc next week as they have very busy clinics Thursday & Fri!!

    Mmum, I tried to use Auto Redial but a voice said, "this service is not available on this call! This is why I just kept pressing redial!  I have tried at different times of the day and the closest I got was 13th in the queue!

    Thanks all of you, I will contact my SCN or Onc and will let you know how I get on.

    By the way, the rules for changing your GP are slightly different in Scotland but thanks!

    Love Annette x

    Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift!!!
  • Annette,

    Have you registered for Systemonline, or equivalent where you are? Do you have this as I can get blood test and other results that came from the Gp and read them without having to call in. I can also read any communication that comes from my consultants to the GP. As well as repeat prescriptions etc.

    The system we have her in North Norfolk  is also very irritating:

    1. You can dial at 8am repeatedly and hope your call gets through amongst the dozens or hundreds of others that are all in a bun fight trying to get one of the few available appointments set aside for that day. Good luck with that!

    2. Or I can book a face to face with a nurse for several weeks hence. They will then refer you on for another appointment with a doctor if they think it's necessary. This is the route I've had to go down to get somebody to look at a decidedly dodgy mole on my arm that appeared from nowhere. I've an appointment in mid-June!

    3. Book a telephone triage appointment with a doctor- but try getting one with the doctor you actually want to see. Every time I try to see mine his 'template' isn't up on the screen. In fact, every time I've phoned his 'template' is never up. I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to even speak to him on the phone. Is he still alive I wonder?

    4. Altogether now 'Scream' on the count of 3!


    Rainie x

  • Your experience of Systmonline is better than mine Rainie! I can only see coded entries and my practice doesn't allow access to letters which is really frustrating. 

    To get an appointment I rarely phone these days I use an online form on their website, they usually respond within 24 hours, though the appointment can be weeks away. A  few months ago I was so frustrated with them that I nearly asked my liaison nurse to call them on my behalf, but I'm getting regular follow up now, mainly by phone, but I have had one face to face appointment.

    There is a massive shortage of GPs which does not help. 


  • Hi Rainie & Sarah,

    My practise has no online connection for patients. Yes they do have a Website of sorts but you can't really do anything on it. It is only for Information. You used to be able to order repeat prescriptions but that hasn't worked for months.

    The only way I could see any documents, reports etc is while having a face to face appointment with a GP who is willing to turn his computer round to let you see it. So we are back to trying to get an appointment.

    i was meant to be booked in for a "speak to doctor" appointment last Tuesday. I made it while getting bloods done by stopping at reception.  She made it for me but it was four and a half weeks away. Last Tuesday, I waited and waited. No Phonecall. I phoned and it took me 45 minutes to get through to the repeat prescription line, as I knew the reception line would take much longer. When I asked why I didn't get a call, the answer was, there was NO appointment booked in. I said I watched the receptionist type it into the computer and the answer I got was "well, it's not there now and I can't book you in because this is the wrong line"! What can you do!

    i have an appointment with the Liver a Clinic this morning to get a scan & bloods done. I will explain to them what has happened.

    Love Annette x

    Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift!!!
  • That's really poor, and a jobsworth response from the person you did speak to. I can see why you are looking at changing practices. Good luck with today's appointment xxx


  • Thanks Sarah, the result of my appointment was I had to go on Tuesday for iron via IV as even after a blood transfusion and four lots of iron tablets, my bloods are still low. So IV is the next step!

    Love Annette x

    Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift!!!
  • Wow ladies you certainly being given the run around by your GP, the first time I was due for a Decapeptyl injections I tried to make an appointment to see a nurse was told I'd have to wait, as the injection has to be give within a 3 day time limit, I rang my Macmillan nurse and explained, she told me to wait in the GPs, within half an hour I spoke to the lead practice nurse, who set up a cancer patient care package.

    Now when I go down for any reason and get resistance from the clearks I just refer them to my care plan, no problems getting face to face.

    Our GP is a city wide practice with all GPs taking part, it's called Sunderland Alliance.