Struggling to book a GP appointment is the number one concern raised by patients who have given their views to Solihull’s independent watchdog.
Healthwatch Solihull received more than 1,000 feedback forms and surveys from local people, and attended 83 events between April and September last year.
A summary of the organisation’s activities, to be considered by councillors next week, confirmed that the difficulties getting in at the doctors was the most common problem reported.
This chimes with the findings of Healthwatch England, which collated responses from across its nationwide network and published the results last month.
While most patients were generally happy with their practice, being able to get an appointment quickly is a recurring problem.
“They struggle to get an appointment over the phone and online,” said the Healthwatch England report.
“Poor access has a knock-on effect. Long waits to be seen can prevent people from being diagnosed, treated and referred to specialist services.”
The Solihull branch, which has headquarters in Chelmsley Wood, had conducted its own investigation into this particular issue and published a series of recommendations last year.
These included taking steps to deal with the influx of calls at the start of each day, considering whether frontline staff have had sufficient training in customer service and further discussions between different practices about options for working together.
Speaking at the time, Cllr Tim Hodgson, deputy leader of Solihull’s Green Party group, said: “People raise this sort of thing with me all the time and from personal experience if you don’t phone at eight o’clock on the dot, you’re not going to get an appointment.
“People phone reception and just can’t get through or if they can get through then they can’t get the day they want or they might not be able to get an appointment with their [usual] doctor.”
While many surgeries are having to deal with an increased workload, there are also concerns pressures are made worse by missed appointments. Figures show that more than 15 million consultations were wasted in 2018 because patients failed to turn up.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said that it has been working to roll out evening and weekend appointments to make it easier for patients to access services.
The update on Healthwatch Solihull’s activities is to be discussed by members of the council’s health and adult social care scrutiny board next Monday (January 7).
Source : BirminghamMail