GP Myths – Part 1 Appointments

appointments
Why can’t I see the doctor that I want?

We try to accommodate you with the doctor of your choice. However if you want to be seen sooner you may have to be willing to see any doctor. Remember that the GP you wish to see may be fully booked, not available or on annual leave.

Why can’t I be seen on the same day?

We try to reserve same day appointments for the most unwell otherwise we would not be able to see the most vulnerable and unwell patients who need same day appointments.

Is the receptionist deliberately trying to be awkward?

No the receptionist has a difficult job in allocating appointments and inevitably people will be upset if they can’t be seen on the same day. GP practices operate slightly differently and many have a duty doctor to triage appointments.

Why is my GP being protective about same day appointments?

These run out very quickly and we only have a limited supply. That’s why we try to reserve them for the most unwell patients and ask that routine matters are seen at routine appointments.

Why do I have to wait so long for a routine appointment?

Due to a shortage of GPs and appointments around the country we prioritise unwell patients and unfortunately this results in patients having to wait for more routine matters.

How long do you have to see me?

10 minutes in total. That includes typing up notes and calling you in. So in reality we have about 7 minutes.

Do you wish you had longer to see me?

Yes but there aren’t enough GPs in the country for this to happen and there are a shortage of appointments.

Are you closed for lunch?

No. We may not have a pre-set clinic but we are still working. When not directly seeing someone during clinic times we have to read clinical notes, hospital letters, out of hours emergency letters, blood results, call patients and attend meetings (palliative care, child protection, district nurses, practice meetings).

Why aren’t the doctors in my surgery seeing patients for the whole day?

We have clinic times. Outside of these times it doesn’t mean that the GP isn’t working or is having a long lunch break. When not directly seeing someone during clinic times we have to read clinical notes, hospital letters, out of hours emergency letters, blood results, call patients and attend meetings (palliative care, child protection, district nurses, practice meetings).

Why can’t I get a sick note on the same day via telephone from the duty doctor?

If you are calling for an extension of a sick note this is not classed as an emergency. You should let your employer know and we normally have this done within a few days. Remember that each task may only seem like a few minutes but all the minutes add up.

Why doesn’t my GP provide a 24 hr service?

We would love to do this but there aren’t enough facilities in place for this to happen not to mention a shortage of doctors and funding. If GPs did longer evenings/nights or weekend shifts they would require days off in lieu to meet health regulations and to have time off. The same GP can’t work 24 hours a day 7 days a week indefinitely. The overall weekly appointments would actually be reduced due to this reason compared to those offered currently offered in a 5 day service. However please note that at weekends A&E should not be your first port of call if you feel it is not an emergency. There are GP services in the whole country at weekends and you should be calling them for advice if you are unwell.

Should I go to A&E at weekends and nights because my regular GP is closed?

No. You should only go to A&E if it is an emergency or you are very unwell. Just because your own GP practice may be closed at the weekend doesn’t mean that there isn’t GP cover and services available for unwell patients. GPs provide out-of-hours services that cover the whole of the UK at weekends.

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