GP appointment delays causing frustration

ISLANDERS wishing to see GPs have faced frustration and long delays as a result of the direct employment arrangements introduced as part of the response to Covid-19, GPs have acknowledged.

Picture: Shutterstock (28961763)
Picture: Shutterstock (28961763)

The government has said that ‘the situation is expected to improve going forward’.

Bill Gray from St John spent days trying to get an appointment before he was eventually seen.

‘I was phoning every 15 minutes for two days, and eventually I went into town and waited outside to see a doctor,’ he said.

Mr Gray (82) was seeking an appointment to examine a knee condition which he said was causing him constant pain and had left him unable to walk properly.

‘I couldn’t see my regular doctor, and the person I did see said he couldn’t help me, but he could get me an appointment on 10 August, which is nearly three weeks after I started trying to get one.

‘Then I got a letter from the Hospital calling me for an X-ray on 17 August – at one point I’d been annoyed as no one wanted to know, and then I get a letter – it’s not very joined-up.’

Several other Islanders have reported difficulties in getting face-to-face appointments except in emergencies.

Although GPs have been restricted in their ability to speak publicly as a result of being temporarily employed by the government, one GP said the situation had become difficult.

‘We are aware that appointments are very limited at the moment as we edge towards the end of our government contract,’ the GP said. ‘This is due to restrictions on our working hours and redeployment to the Hospital and other work streams.

‘Practices are working hard to prepare for the return to our previous way of working from 8 August and availability will then quickly improve. In the meantime, we continue to provide 24-hour GP cover via practices and the JDOC service.

‘We absolutely understand the frustration some patients are having getting appointments as quickly as they are used to and we thank them for their continuing patience.’

A government spokesperson said: ‘Most surgeries are providing telephone triage in the first instance for patients requesting appointments to ensure the risk is minimised for both staff and other patients attending the surgery.

‘The triage system also allows the practice to prioritise the urgency of the request and match appointments accordingly.’

The spokesperson concluded that 98% of contracted GP hours were now back in primary care and the situation was anticipated to improve.

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