Helen Leaford, 62, from Basingstoke was falling over and suffering dizzy spells, but her GP advised her to use ear drops and get used to being off balance, but instead, she borrowed money from friends and went to see a private doctor. The £300 doctor said she needed an urgent MRI scan to diagnose the problem.
Pinned to the door of a GP surgery on a leafy residential road in suburban Sidcup, Kent is a handwritten message, attached to the interior of the window saying, ‘Please don’t punch or kick the door.’ But a statement such as this is indeed shocking, but it speaks volumes about the increasingly fractured relationship between the public and the people working in one of the nation’s most trusted professions, the family doctor.
There has been a litany of problems that people have experienced trying to access their GP during the pandemic, and now it appears, that little has changed.
Practices were forced to swiftly adopt new ways of working after the Government urged them to increase the use of phone and video appointments, a necessary step needed to lessen the spread of infection among patients in waiting rooms and to protect staff during the first wave of COVID.
However, there are now concerns because there have been reports that some practices have all but shut up shop and are not seeing patients at all in person, and in some cases even getting a phone call from your GP is almost impossible and multiple patients are going under the radar and are not being treated correctly, and now trying to get into your surgery to see your GP is almost like trying to break into prison instead of out of one.
The situation still remains so serious that patients are being forced to go to A&E because they can’t get an appointment with their doctors, and some patients haven’t had blood pressure or a diabetes check-up for 18 months, and some patients with blood in their urine, intense ongoing stomach pain, unusual swellings under the skin and significant, unintentional weight loss were all offered telephone appointments only, despite repeated requests to see a doctor.
And many patients have told their stories anonymously, for fear of being blacklisted by practices for making complaints.
Under pandemic guidance, practices were advised to screen patients remotely first, a process known as triage, either in a telephone call with a receptionist or via an online form to determine whether they need a telephone appointment with a GP or could be dealt with by a nurse or pharmacist.
But there’s just no reason for so much of our lives being destroyed, it’s disgraceful.
How on earth can a GP examine someone over the phone, it’s utterly stupid, and some people are now selling off stuff to pay for a private diagnosis.
Boris Johnson should now demand that GPs who refuse to see patients shouldn’t be paid, then I’m quite sure the issue would resolve very quickly because they definitely shouldn’t be handed out bonuses for a job that they’re not doing, but that’s not going to happen because the Government are too weak to challenge anyone, and that’s why we’re in the state that we’re in now, but then the Government want to get rid of the NHS, so they don’t care either.
Our GPs have been missing in action, and some have a locked door policy with some receptionists who have been turning people away, and lots of patients who have had phone appointments have been incorrectly diagnosed, and have then finished up in hospital.
Some surgeries have even turned off their phone system and then if you go down there to see someone, you’re told to go and see a pharmacist. This is a national disgrace that will be remembered for decades.