Dr's appointment times

  oresome 08:36 16 May 2007

My wife took her mother to the doctor the other week and the doctor asked to see her again in a month.

My wife tried to make an appointment there and then, but reception will only make advance bookings for up to a fortnight.

She called in yesterday on another matter and tried to make an appointment for her mother again.

"I'd like to make an appointment week commencing............"

"Doctor X is only in on Tuesday that week"

"Make it Tusday then"

"He's not taking bookings for Tuesday"

"Why not"

"I'll find out............Oh, it's because the Monday is a Bank Holiday"


"Phone on the day and take your chance that an appointment is available"

"What if one isn't available?"

"Come the following Tuesday"

"Can I make an appouintment for the following Tuesday?"

"No, it's more than two weeks away, call next week"

I'm sure that if I was directly paying for the service, it would either be vastly improved, or the practise would have gone out of business for not meeting it's customers needs.

Why, when things are public funded, is the service so dire?

  g0slp 08:40 16 May 2007

Simple answer - government 'targets' having to be met.

  MichelleC 09:19 16 May 2007

I think my mum's gp's surgery has the best system. You can only book up on the day, not in advance. That cuts out the time wasters and cancelled appointments.

  jack 09:23 16 May 2007

This tale is so common- and the poor receptionist/doctor/nurse is working with a laid down scheme to try to make an appointments system as flexible as possible - and in so get themselves tied up in a ludicrous situation.
Suppose for a moment a given situation.
a working day for a doc., is let us say 8 hours and during that time there are 48 appointment slots.
During the preceding weeks bookings are taken willy nilly for routine appointments/check ups.
Come a given day with a patient with a genuine need they cannot get in because the day is full of routine stuff, because of this then is a good reason why a given appointment time can drag on- because a more urgent case has to be fitted in.
So by only taking an appointment booking nearer a given date can a list be kept reasonably clear- because every one then is on a first come first served basis.
They the appointment allocators in a lose lose situation it seems

  oresome 12:31 16 May 2007

The problem with booking on the day, particularly for none urgent visits is that the patient often has arangements to make.

My mother-in-law cannot get to the surgery under her own steam and relies on my wife for transport and assistance for example.

Try phoning on the day and you'll find that the phone is engaged for hours as they only have one line and one receptionist answering the phone.

Once through on the phone, you're then expected to get there within an hour or two, which can be insufficient notice.

  spuds 13:35 16 May 2007

Sound to me that a telephone call to the local PCT is required. They should be able to tell you the guidelines that doctors have to comply with regarding appointments and other services.

My own GP practise have changed their appointment procedures many times over the last two years. Some of the previous methods were very confusing and time limited, which never seemed to work in favour of the patient.They have now gone back to the old system. Any of the doctor's or practise nurses can booked you in direct for the next appointment, whatever they/you decide.The same applies to new consultation appointments, phone then get a slot usually same day for urgent requests or within 2/4 days for normal concerns.Works a dream now.

  Watchful 13:51 16 May 2007

In my experience that's the very worst system and my GP has reverted to being able to book in advance after many complaints.

It was ridiculous ringing up on the very day you want to see them because if they are already booked (and that happened even if you rang up at opening time - don't ask me how!) then you were told to ring back the following day. How could you be sure to get one then even? you couldn't.

Stupid system that even Tony Blair wasn't aware of when it was raised in Parliament a couple of years ago.

Some patients need an appointment when they are able to attend, because of work etc. they are not all emergency cases and certainly not all malingerers.

  Curio 14:16 16 May 2007

Could this be why a lot of patients wind up at their Local Hopsital A & E Dept (If it has not been closed)?

  MichelleC 15:03 16 May 2007

if you are genuinely ill and need to see a GP that day. Mum's surgery is difficult to get through to on the phone from 8.15am for about half-an-hour. They will always fit you in that day, even if it has to be late afternoon.

Conversely step-dad's surgery you can never get to see a GP on the day you're unwell, so he has to suffer for another day or so.

  Watchful 17:53 16 May 2007

I agree in those cases and my GP's staff will arrange for you to be seen by another doctor if needs be and you have to be seen ASAP; but for all other appointments it is a non-starter.

  Legolas 16:01 19 May 2007

MichelleC My surgery has the same system and I find it very good, any time I have had to use it I have always got an appointment with no problem.

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