More than a quarter of patients who need appointments avoid making one because they find it too difficult, according to a new survey.
The NHS GP Patient Survey 2022 showed a sharp rise in people struggling to get through to GP practices over the phone. Since last year, the share of respondents saying it was not easy to make contact with anyone jumped by nearly 15 percentage points to roughly 47% in the previous 12 months.
Dr Omon Imohi, a 39-year-old GP in St Helens, said "there's this notion that the GP receptionists are difficult to get through, but they can only offer what's there, they can only give what they've got". She worries about taking toilet breaks while trying to get through 18 face-to-face and remote consultations a day, on top of administrative work like processing prescriptions, blood test results and hospital referrals.She squeezes in extra appointments for people with urgent needs when she can, but there's a limit how far any GP can stretch. Dr Imohi, who is also vice chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP) Mersey branch, told the ECHO: "[Receptionists] feel the frustration as well, because patients are shouting at them, sometimes patients are insulting them, but it's not within their power."
The pandemic saw GP practices shift to online booking systems and phone consultations, some of them almost overnight. For older, poorer and less technologically savvy patients, this presents a barrier to accessing medical advice as they may lack the knowledge or resources to navigate the process.
I'm thinking any one of us can tell her why it's so. Let's start with the ownership and administration, then the financial incentives for doctors to take certain offers and not others ... oh it just goes on and on and on. Certain demographics herded in, straight onto benefits ... and then the disgraceful covid debacle.
Plus moral compass, the hippocratic and Nuremberg principles. Plus the EBM codswallop which rewards reading a computer screen. Where shall I stop? Medical training now? Priorities?