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Frome patients’ anger at waiting times

Frome Medical Practice has come under fire for the length of time it takes to see a doctor.

Patients have told Frome Times that they are waiting for up to four weeks for an appointment to see a doctor and say this is unacceptable.

The patients were responding to an appeal from the practice who asked for patients to cancel any appointments they no longer needed to help reduce waiting times. In the statement by Dr. Tina Merry, a senior doctor at the practice, she asked for patient help after hundreds of appointments have been missed at the practice recently, meaning many are forced to wait longer for an appointment.

Angered

The appeal angered many patients who felt that the practice itself should do more. Sue Golding said, “I would say that there is most definitely a problem with waiting times for appointments.  In what practice does Dr Merry think that we can get an appointment the same day!!!

“After a blood test my husband was asked by the health centre to make an appointment to see his doctor. So on the same day he was asked this,  Friday 30th May, he attempted to book one on line, the first available was the 27th June and that was not with his own doctor.

“Why on earth do you need to wait four weeks to see a doctor especially if you have been asked to make an appointment due to tests results?

“Since the practice has moved it is an absolute disgrace and you might as well always go to the walk-in centre and sit and wait, even if it is not an emergency, as so far in the last two years I have never managed to get an appointment in less than three weeks from the date of booking and that is not waiting for my doctor.”

Another Frome resident R.G Macarthur said, “I have read dr Merry’s article, however the situation is much worse than she depicts. To check, just go online and try to get an appointment; Tuesday 20th May pm i found the first available as June 12th – a 23 day wait.”

Rosa Cooper also tried recently to book an appointment and was left disappointed. She said, “I phoned on the morning of the 16th May for a GP appointment, I stressed I was happy to see any dr. The receptionist was sorry to inform me that there were no appointments available until the 13th of June.”

Suggestions

Some patients have also made suggestions of how the waiting times for appointments can be reduced with the idea of a text or email alert system being one. Bill Savage from Buckland Dinham said, “I have some sympathy for Dr Merry’s comments that hundreds of GP appointments were lost due to patients just not turning up.

“The practice might like to consider the system used by the NHS Frome Dental Practice in Rodden Road. Here, they send a text message the day prior to a patient’s appointment, reminding them. This operates on landlines as a read-out message and helps to reduce lost appointments.

“Having to wait at least a month to see your own doctor is now the norm. Little wonder then, that because of this time lag some patients mistakenly miss an appointment. It is truly a ‘Catch 22’ situation.”

IT problems

Whilst Allan McKillen feels an updated IT system may help patients, he said, “There are still problems with the new IT system. For example if you book an appointment for say four weeks away and the situation changes and you need to see someone sooner. Having then waited in the “walk in clinic” you do get seen but only in order to be prioritized, so in fact you can end up spending four hours plus waiting around.

“When you book online there is no automatic email to remind you, you just have to make a note and this can easily get mislaid. From the tone of the article it seems to put all the blame on the patients and the system is portrayed as blameless, when I know that all computer systems have their problems.”

Frome Medical Practice has been contacted by the Frome Times with some of the suggestions by patients, and staff say they will look into the idea of a text or email alert.

 

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