"Telephone "appointments" not always appropriate"

About: NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

(as a service user),

After receiving a letter asking me to make an appointment with my usual GP to discuss my depression and medication, I called the surgery and was advised that this would have to be a telephone appointment as per new procedures just introduced.

I felt uncomfortable with this as it is a very sensitive emotional problem to discuss and I would find it even harder to do this over the phone with a Dr I may never have spoken to before. I explained that the letter said I should see my usual Dr but the receptionist still insisted that it would have to be a telephone consult and proceeded to give me an appointment with a locum Dr. I say appointment but I was actually told that I could be called anytime between 8am and 12pm!  I don't see how this is supposed to be an improvement in service.

Why should I have to wait in all morning for a call when it was the surgery who asked me to make an appointment in the first place? I was quite upset and unhappy after the call and decided to phone back. This time the receptionist I spoke to was very understanding and arranged a proper appointment with my GP although she did confirm that it should really be a telephone appt.

If my appointment had been to talk about joint pain or migraine etc, then I would have been happy with a telephone appt. but when depression is involved I think it is dangerous to try to force telephone appointments on patients.

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Response from Lisa Ramsay, Patient Experience Public Involvement Team Support, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Dear twist64

Thank you for taking the time to post on Patient Opinion. I am sorry to hear about what has happened with your GP appointment and can fully understand why you would have preferred a face to face appointment instead of a telephone appointment. Perhaps if the letter you received had advised that the appointment you were being asked to make would have been over the telephone, this would not have caused you to feel uncomfortable.

As GPs are responsible for their own appointment systems, I advise that you raise this with the Practice Manager, who will be able to help. Alternatively, I can pass this on to the Practice Manager on your behalf, if you would like to email some personal details to me at to Lisa.Ramsay@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.

Best wishes


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Update posted by twist64 (a service user)

Hi Lisa - thanks for taking the time to respond and I appreciate that it is a matter for the GP practice. I probably will take the matter up with the Practice Manager and hopefully I won't be asked to change practices as a result of doing so !

The wider issue I was trying to raise is that it takes a long time to be comfortable speaking to someone about depression and if I don't know who will be calling me then I would become very anxious. Having to wait all morning for the call would only increase anxiety. The situation has made me feel that my condition is not worthy of a full appointment and I will be very reluctant to make any further appointments.