Desperate patient called 213 times to get GP appointment

Patients at Woodside Medical Centre in Tile Hill, Coventry, have been left feeling stressed and anxious with medical conditions they say the GP practice is failing to acknowledge. Some have even said they would rather “suffer” with their illnesses rather than have the constant worry of having to ring the GP.

Patients said they have been left without medication which has exacerbated their existing medical conditions, CoventryLive reports.

Current waiting times are also said to be worse than during the height of the pandemic, they claim.

Mum-of-three Patrycja Bogdan, 30, told the website: “I had a serious urine infection. I was in so much pain. I have been trying to get an appointment for weeks. I rang at 8.30am and they said that they were fully booked. It is constant. I told them that I am really in pain, I really need some painkillers, I really need some antibiotics. I had a high temperature for three days and they told me to call back tomorrow morning. I was so annoyed. I wanted to shout, swear, but if you do they will remove you from the waiting list.”

She added: “It is so annoying when they say we are fully booked. When you finally get to the front of the queue, they say ‘unfortunately we are fully booked’, so you are wasting your time literally an hour staying on the phone trying to get in touch.”

Woodside Medical Centre said that demand for appointments has significantly increased in recent times. Bosses claim that they have offered nine per cent more appointments compared to the same period last year.

Patrycja fears that the stress of not being able to get an appointment has exacerbated her existing health problems. “I have tried over and over to get in touch with the doctor for a blood test form, and I could not, so I was without my thyroid medication for three months, and that has caused high blood pressure now and pain in my chest,” she said.

“It was really awful. It is ridiculous what is going on at this GP. I want to be healthy for my kids, but I am stressed, I cannot get hold of my medication, I cannot get a blood test. It makes me absolutely stressed and nervous and that affects my kids because I am literally shaking inside when I cannot continue my medication.”

Patrycja added: “I cannot always ring at 8am in the morning because I have to get my kids ready for school and I have a baby as well so it is not that easy to phone the GP and make sure my kids are ready for school and dressed. It is absolutely ridiculous.”

Another woman, aged 56, who has been a patient at the GP for 45 years, said she has experienced similar issues with the local practice and has been left “stressed” after multiple encounters which saw her unable to gain an appointment day after day.

She said: “I have got a lot of health issues. I have been with the GP since I was a child, I am in my 50s now, and I have had the same doctor for so many years. It is now impossible to see a doctor or even to speak to your own doctor.

“It is so stressful. I am putting up with being ill because the other day I phoned up 213 times and still could not get an appointment. When you do get through, the receptionist said ‘You need to phone at 8am’ and I said well ‘What do you think I have been doing? I have been phoning since 8am and I have only just got through now’.

“I am on the phone at 7.59am ready for 8am. If you are not through to them by 8.15am or 8.20am by the latest all appointments are gone and you have to phone again in the morning and the stress of doing it, you would rather not do it, you would rather be ill and just try to cope.”

Receptionists are said to refer patients to the Walk-In Centre or advise them to call 111 to receive medical assistance.

Having been at the GP for 45 years, the unnamed woman said she believes the practice has “taken on too many patients” and struggles to cope with demand. Other elderly residents who live nearby are said to sometimes be “nearly in tears” due to the stress of being refused appointments with the GP.

When asked why she has not changed GP, the woman said that she has been a patient there for “many years” and the doctors understand her medical problems.

A spokesman for Woodside Medical Centre said: “Woodside Medical Centre strives to provide our patients with quality, timely and appropriate care. We have achieved this for many years and the service we offer is rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission.

“In line with what is happening nationally, demand for appointments has increased significantly and in January to March 2022, we offered nine per cent more appointments than the same period in 2021. During the height of Covid in 2020, we were not only the hub for the administration of Covid vaccinations for our Primary Care Network but also offered high levels of GP consultations each day for patients who needed to be seen urgently along with nurse appointments.

“We understand that difficulties accessing GP services are frustrating for patients and their families. We share that frustration and continue to innovate to maximise the volume of appointments available to our patients.

“We have GP Registrars along with allied health professionals which include a First Contact Physio, Clinical Pharmacists, Social Prescribers and Physician Associates. Telephone lines are exceedingly busy first thing in the morning and we do advise patients to call at other times of the day.

“We have some pre-bookable face-to-face and telephone appointments and also offer online access for some services which means that patients don’t have to phone in. Prior to Covid, we upgraded our telephone system and we are looking at a further upgrade in the near future. The practice is recruiting additional administration staff which will increase the number of staff answering the telephones.”

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