"Long wait to see my GP"

About: Bourtreehill Medical Practice

(as a parent/guardian),

I rarely use the surgery so was surprised to be advised when I called for an appointment that you now attend at 11 am and wait to be seen.

My appointment was for my baby and I arrived at 10. 50 am to find a packed waiting room with barely any seats, as I also had my toddler with me, I headed to the area with the kids books and toy area and some people kindly moved along to make space.

Unfortunately some other patients felt it was appropriate to sit and have loud foul mouthed conversations around the kids area.

My other issue is that whilst playing, my toddler who wasn't sick but had to come along was playing with at least 2 children who clearly had chicken pox. Not ideal and almost totally avoidable if we had proper appointment times.

Surely if this system is to continue, there must be a better way of managing appointments for children under the age of 10! ? They should not be made to sit in a surgery full of sick people, some having conversations that made my toes curl, and have to wait!

As an adult I understand why it is necessary to wait to be seen, but after waiting for a full hour before my baby was seen my toddler was literally climbing the walls, all you heard through the waiting area was parents giving young kids into trouble because they were fed up and bored.

Goodness knows how anyone with anxiety or social phobias would feel sitting in such a busy environment for an hour waiting to be seen, I know I was certainly agitated and irritated by the whole experience.

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Response from Robert Faulks, Practice Manager, Bourtreehill Medical Practice

Thank you for your story, and for using the “Patient Opinion” system to give us some feedback. I do understand that your experience on this occasion must have been very trying and frustrating, and possibly very illuminating to perceive the force of demand that the practice is striving to meet nearly every day.

I think you were invited to attend one of our open surgeries on a Tuesday or Thursday, and if I judge correctly this one was being specially managed due to demand and GP sickness. Our open surgery is a fairly recent innovation to cope with a combination of patients whose declared need is to be seen that morning, or within a working day or two. It is designed in part to include patients who feel they cannot wait for a timed GP appointment but do not feel they need to be seen the same day (at the time of writing our first available routine GP appointment is just over 24 hours ahead). Every available GP is assigned to the open surgeries, the number of patients and occasionally their time of arrival is actively managed to cater for GP numbers and to a degree the capacity of our thankfully large waiting room, and the GPs check the assembled patient list to make allowances for particularly sick patients of all ages and their reported signs and symptoms.

There are matters we cannot legislate for, such as the depressingly dismal standards of personal behaviour in public that are regrettably experienced everywhere, but from what you report we would certainly have been very happy to provide an additional waiting room management presence on request to monitor behaviour, create room with extra chairs and do our best to intervene in everyone’s best interests. If you feel concerned about this on a future occasion please feel free to approach the reception desk and ask for assistance.

I sincerely hope you will persevere with using the open surgery if the need arises for you or family members in the future. We have appraised its value in the practice recently as part of our discussions about patient access, and patients are now actively asking to attend it because they know the terms on which they will be seen. Thanks again for your comments; this has been a useful chance to explain a bit more clearly via Patient Opinion how our open surgery works.

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