"Unable to get an urgent appointment in less than 5 days with GP"

About: NHS West Hertfordshire

(as the patient),

My local GP surgery in Potters Bar has rarely allowed pre-booking of urgent appointments. In fact the whole system appears to be designed around the chronic ill rather than health promotion and supporting the working population.

I have rarely needed to ask for an urgent appointment, yesterday I did to my shock find that the normal approach, dial, engaged, redial, engaged, redial engaged, redial, has been replaced with a computerised system. I have no problem with that However, you have 3 choices:

1: The system select an urgent appointment with on-call staff

2: The system allows you to book a repeat appointment

3: Speak to a human (receptionist)

As my problem is new and does not warrant A&E but needs a referral to specialist, (I am an NHS trained nurse) I complied, the results:

1: No urgent appointment so you choice is to speak to a receptionist, the result engaged, redial engaged, redial engaged, redial engaged, redial engaged, redial engaged, redial!

5 hours later after 20 attempts I eventually get through to be told they now only off a late service on a Monday! I explained the need to see someone and advised I could try again tomorrow for an urgent appointment.

The system is inappropriate it does not seem work and despite me explaining this to them, the receptionist was very affronted.

If GP services are to modernise and meet the needs of the whole population, not those chronically ill who can go most days of the week, then I believe there needs to be some radical review.

While I feel the old system didn't work, I think now people will become more irritated by the lack of a human voice when the interaction with the GP is about therapeutic assurance and support, not an automated system that doesn’t work and is impossible to get through.

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