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COMPLAINTS SOAR: Patients say they can’t get ‘face to face’ appointments with GPs

COMPLAINTS SOAR: Patients say they can’t get ‘face to face’ appointments with GPs

Complaints soar as patients say they can’t get ‘face to face’ appointments with GPs, Image: LDRS

Patients should be offered face to face appointments with their GP should they choose one, a Bolton health chief has said.

Coun Susan Baines, who is cabinet member for health and well-being, said she and other councillors had received numerous complaints from Bolton residents who have been unable to get in person appointments with a doctor at their local practice.

At a meeting of the full council, she was asked questions by three councillors on the subject, who all reported that constituents had raised concerns that they were not able to see their GP in person.

Coun Sean Hornby told the meeting: “Concerns are being expressed as to the long term effects this may be having on patients, especially when early detection is so important in curing many conditions.”

Coun Andrea Taylor-Burke, who represents Little Lever & Darcy Lever, said: “I’ve been asked many times when we can expect face to face appointments to become normal practice again.

“Many people I support refuse to speak to the doctor over the phone or virtually as they don’t feel comfortable.

“We have seen a huge increase in numbers in our A&E department for physical and mental health concerns.

“This I feel is the direct impact of GP surgeries not seeing people face to face.

“I have heard that there are some surgeries that have started face to face appointments

“I just wonder why this has not occurred everywhere.”

Coun Baines read out a response from Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group on the issue.

It said: “All practices are offering face to face appointments to those who need them.

“All requests for appointments are triaged to decide whether a home visit is needed, or face to face in the surgery, or by telephone consultation or similar.

“Like all health care services general practices are experiencing increased demand for services.

“GP appointment data reported nationally shows approximately 50 per cent of appointments are currently provided face to face.

“This national appointments data collected by NHS England is not yet available practice level.

“So Bolton CCG is planning to undertake two detailed access audits this year.”

Coun Baines said the CCG response ‘does not reflect accurately the experiences of everyone in Bolton borough’.

She added: “I have received so many concerns and complaints from residents.

“I have advised the health and care scrutiny scrutiny committee to bring this up at its next meeting for a deeper and more considered discussion and for the clinical commissioning group to reassure our residents that they will be able to obtain a face to face consultation, should they choose to have one, or if there is a need for one.

“We have to safeguard the health and well being of our residents.”


Words: Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter

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