I sent the following letter to the local papers:
IT is of deep concern that residents are having to wait so long for appointments with their GPs. This has included some people having to wait weeks for an appointment. Others have been told all appointments are fully booked so it is not even possible for them to make an appointment to see a doctor in the next few weeks.
This is completely unacceptable. Islington’s outgoing Primary Care Trust and new Clinical Commissioning Group must urgently investigate why residents are struggling to get appointments with GPs to see what improvements can be made to resolve this terrible problem.
The Islington Tribune published the letter and then got in touch to ask about what had prompted it. I have recently spoken wit
GP shortage fears – Call for investigation after councillor was turned away from surgeryA YOUNG Islington councillor, who was refused an appointment with her local GP when she suffered fits of coughing, has called for a major investigation into lack of doctors in the borough.
St Peter’s ward Labour councillor Alice Perry, 30, spoke about her ordeal, when in a distressed state she needed to see her doctor but was told there were “no slots” available.
Cllr Perry, elected last year, has the support of Islington South and Finsbury Labour MP Emily Thornberry, who said that patients are even being turned away from local walk-in surgeries.
Cllr Perry, who lives off Caledonian Road, described how she had to “beg” her doctor to ring her back and talk to her. “I know I only had a bad cough but it could have been a lot worse. All I was told was to just go home and rest. I finally persuaded the surgery to proscribe me antibiotics but I only got them because I’m a pushy person. You can imagine a pensioner, for example, just giving up.”
Ms Thornberry said she believes there is a big “disconnect” between the need and the GP service available in t
he borough. “People who can’t see their doctor end up going to a hospital A&E department.
“But they might have to wait several hours to be seen. The government say they are spending more money on the NHS but it is simply not true. Services are being cut and our residents are suffering.”
Labour councillor Martin Klute, who chairs both the Islington and the north London five borough health scrutiny
committees, said members are currently studying the problem. “Anecdotally there is a huge issue with patients waiting to see doctors,” he said. “They can wait weeks or, like Alice, be told that they can’t be seen at all.”
Cllr Klute pointed to a recent rep
ort which revealed that many people only ever get diagnosed with cancer when in pain and in desperation they turn up at their A&E.
The Tribune’s Dr Benedict Smith said a
ccess for patients is something that all GPs are constantly evaluating and trying to improve. “We are acutely aware of the difficulties and frustrations that some patients experience when trying to book appointments,” he said. “GPs are working very hard to provide excellent medical care, on a background of reducing resources in the current financial squeeze.
“Unfortunately, it is not possible to meet every demand. However, at all levels, from the individual GP practice to the Department of Health, work is ongoing to try to address he problem.
“GPs encourage feedback from their patients
where concerns exist.