Tuesday, July 18, 2017

GP or no GP?

 For over a year now, our local surgery has been limping sadly from one day to the next, and no, that is not an exaggeration. It is one of an increasing number of surgeries throughout north Wales (and elsewhere) where the GPs have decided, for whatever reason, to hand back the surgery to the local health board, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board which, just to add to the problem, is currently under special measures. Keith and I have only been patients at this surgery since 2014. I wanted a surgery for Dad which operated an appointment system and was physically easily accessible. Our current surgery at the time didn't fit either of these criteria, so we all three made the move and hit the jackpot.
Our new GP was fantastic, especially in comparison to our previous experiences. However, this was not to last and sadly, all four doctors in the practice decided not to carry on. That was over a year ago.
We had meetings with people from the health board who seemed determined to tell us as little as possible and lived over the border in England, so were probably not likely to suffer a similar situation anyway.
We were promised that this situation would be short term and soon there would be permanent doctors for us again.
We were told about the wonderful new system whereby anyone who rang up for an appointment would be 'asked questions' by the receptionist to determine whether they did indeed need to speak to a doctor or could be directed to a nurse practitioner. Did we really want to be disclosing our medical problems to a non-medic, especially to someone who could well be a neighbour?
Since then, there have been locums, never any more than two, as far as I can gather, and sometimes none. Appointment systems have varied, from having to ring on the day for an appointment to being able to make one a week in advance and then, without warning, back to 'on the day'. People needing ongoing monitoring, blood tests etc have been left high and dry as two nurses have gone on long term sick leave, one is on holiday and there are no replacements available.
The patient representatives organised a petition to send to the health board, asking for things to be sorted out and quickly. In the meantime, I discovered this article:
health-council-slams-system-delaying new GPs coming to North Wales
It appears that even if you have trained and qualified in Wales and/or previously worked here, if you have then left to go elsewhere and wish to come back to work, even though there are patients ready to fall on your necks in gratitude, it's a non-starter because Welsh NHS, having lost patience with NHS England and their promise to set up a system whereby doctors can move between the two countries, and set up their own for incoming doctors. The icing on the cake, of course, is that the said doctors have to sit on their hands for three months.
Hence my email last week to BCUHB, asking 'what the hell...?" although not in precisely those words.
I have been promised a written reply! Watch this space.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

Oh dear! This is not funny. I feel very lucky to belong to a health centre that is reliable and consistent with none of the issues that you refer to here.

Jenny Aspin said...

It is very worrying.

Graham Edwards said...

Living as I do in an exceptionally remote part of the UK and having suffered a bit from the problem of a lack of GPs (as has much of Scotland) I am astonished at the relatively wonderful health care that we have here on Lewis when I compare it to elsewhere. Because of the very large number of no-shows the practice I have been with for 42 years now has an on-the-day appointment service and it's cut non-attendance hugely. It still astonished me, though, that people will make an appointment at 0830 and then not turn up to it a few hours later. I do hope that it improves for you.

Jenny Aspin said...

Thanks, Graham. Our practice does suffer from no-shows, even now, when it's so difficult to get an appointment anyway but I think the changes between on the day and a week ahead appointments have been governed by whether they can find the locums needed.


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