GP appointments

Story: Camille Daughma

We can all relate to the experience: we feel unwell and, after hoping and wishing it would go away, it only gets worse. The inevitable happens and we call the doctor.

The receptionist at the other end of the line responds, her tone professionally cold or condescending. Hesitantly, anxiously, you explain. The receptionist responds with an often-recited line,

“You cannot be seen today. The earliest available appointment is in two weeks.”

You think to yourself

‘I could be dead by then’.

The Government is seeking to address this by introducing polyclinics and GP-led city centre services across England. The polyclinics will be located at various points across the city and will consist of local GPs working together under one roof with other services. The GP-led service will be based in the city centre. They will both provide extra services such as chiropody, pharmacy and physiotherapy to reduce the need for multiple appointments. The concern is that patients will have to travel outside their local area to access health care and that local GPs might be phased out eventually.

I spoke to Helen, the Communications Officer at the Sheffield NHS Trust, which is presently consulting on a GPled City Centre service, and asked whether this was a means of replacing the GP service.

“It would be an additional service which would complement the present local GP by offering more access and convenience for people who work and live in and around the city centre.”

The service will offer access to GPs on a walk-in basis, treating non-emergency cases. The service will be free and open from 8am to 8pm every day of the year.

Private enterprise

I spoke with Dr Edney from Pitsmoor Surgery who expressed concern that the City centre GP service would be run by private enterprise. Although it would not cost the service users, it would cost the NHS a large sum which would inevitably cut the hospitals budget. The GPs would not be familiar with patients and it has been her experience that patients like to see their own GP. Continuity of care could also become a problem.

I enquired as to why it is so difficult to get an appointment at your local GP?

“There is a huge demand to be met. Patients who come with trivial things really do not need to be seen, robbing patients with more urgent need of an appointment. Patients who do not turn up waste time that could have been allocated to others. More services have been moved out of hospitals into local surgeries. Patients expect a 24-hour service but it’s not possible for the same doctor to work 24 hours.”

More accessible

She also acknowledged that GPs need to make their practice more accessible. She encourages patients who genuinely have difficulty getting appointments to raise it with the practice. At Pitsmoor Surgery, the Drop-in service has reduced the incidence of missed appointments. She agrees that surgeries have to make appointments more available.

There is a need to improve GP Practices and Dr Edney acknowledges,

“We can only improve by listening to the patients and putting ourselves in their position. Patients should in turn put themselves in our positions as well.”

The consultation runs until 22nd August – see

Logged in users of the website can add comments to this page.
Login to this site if you'd like to add a comment. Sign-up for an account if you are not currently a member.

<< | Up | >>

Print version

The content on this page was added to the website by Douglas Johnson on 2008-07-17 22:02:58.
The content of the page was last modified by Douglas Johnson on 2008-07-17 22:08:35.

Follow us on Twitter @TheBMessenger

All content is copyright © Burngreave Messenger Ltd. or its voluntary contributors, unless otherwise stated, not to be reproduced without permission. If you have any comments, or are interested in contributing to the Messenger and getting involved, please contact us.

Burngreave Messenger Ltd. Abbeyfield Park House, Abbeyfield Road, Sheffield S4 7AT.
Telephone: 0114 242 0564. Email:
Company Limited by Guarantee: 04642734
Registered Charity: 1130836

The Burngreave Messenger is a community newspaper with editorial independence, funded by the Big Lottery, Foyle Foundation, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Scurrah Wainwright Charity, local residents and our advertisers.

Help the Messenger with a donation