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NHS England: A Call to Action
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New system?

So I went to book an appointment with my gp about my decreasing lung capacity and crappy asthma getting worse and so I rang up to book an appointment and got told "we dont do appointments anymore, you ring on the day so the doctor can sort you out" is this the same anywhere else? is it a new system? because it comes across like they are picking choosing who is important.

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3 Replies

Hi froggyg,

My GP surgery has been using this system for quite some time now, due to more people asking for face-to-face appointments with doctors in the surgery than there were appointments available. I actually find it works much better for me than scrambling to get one of a limited number of urgent appointments.

It's called triage, and that actually does mean sorting out whose need to come in to surgery for a consultation is most urgent. What was happening where I live is that whoever managed to get through to the surgery first, maybe with just a cold or an itch, got an appointment over someone whose need, maybe like yours, was more urgent.

With this new way, everyone's problem is listened to, and then proper advice given, and, if you need to, you'll be given an appointment to come in urgently, or otherwise be given some medical advice with maybe a follow-up non-urgent appointment.

What happens is that you call early in the morning, in the usual way, and, you might be aked to give the receptionist an outline of what your problem is. But if you don't want to, for any reason, it's OK to say you can't and you'll still get a call back. This may be from a GP or a nurse practitioner who will ask you some questions about what's wrong, to find out how great your need is to come in urgently that day.

If it is something urgent, you'll be asked to come in. If it's something that's not quite so urgent and could be sorted out with, say, a prescription, that will be prepared for you, so you don't even need to go in to see a doctor or nurse practitioner at all.

Of course if you just want a routine appointment anyway, you book that in the usual way and wait however long you need to, before you are seen.

Triage has come about because GP surgeries have too few doctors and too many patients for everyone to be seen when they want. The answer to the problem is probably political, not medical, so we just have to learn to adapt to this new system, but, as I said, it works OK for me.


Oh right, I guess that makes sense. Thanks for giving me a bigger understanding :)

I have asthma & copd & was told the nhs require you to have a lung function every year & to make appointments if any problems. Doesn't always work as not always done correctly by the surgery. As for "regular" appointments, don't even try to understand the new rules, they change as & when the receptionists feel like changing them! Can't always even get a phone appointment, on the day appointments can only be made on a Monday, if you can get through on the phone & all others are often 3 weeks away if they make you 1. I had cellulitis in my legs that took a year plus to clear, (still plays up), saw a doctor twice & months later after 2 phone consultations was given antibiotics prescription OVER THE PHONE!! No examination to check IF that was definitely the same problem. I saw a person few weeks later who was told if hers didn't clear in a week she would be admitted to hospital for better treatment! The difference between us? She works, I can't because of disability. Apart from the regular daily pain I get, I feel I was left to suffer severe pain for a full year plus some because I was not offered the same treatment she was offered. Discrimination is rife within the nhs & I know I'm not the only person who has suffered in this way. Patient's needs are NOT a priority any more, it is what the surgery will offer or want to pay for. I requested a GP with an interest in disability, NO LUCK! they not only do not have 1 at the surgery but could not find 1 within a wide area despite their being a lot of disabled & elderly in the area. Care from anywhere is virtually non existent here unless you can pay for it, claims for medical negligence are not dealt with, certain disabilities are not accepted, (I broke my neck), not on the category list!! I have been told I was the wrong age, had the wrong type of disability & even if I was married & not divorced I would get more help. I have always had to rely on my youngest kids til 1 left county, and my son when at home. 1 other point, anyone tried to ask a doctor about more than 1 health problem? Try it, they will not usually deal with them in 1 appointment but tell you to make a number of appointments. Wonder why so difficult to get to see a doctor, not always too many patients, sometimes it's inefficiency! Why tell a patient to make 3 appointments when 1 would cover everything if doctor/nurse would be prepared to listen bit longer & deal with all at 1 go? Could say a lot more as am most disgruntled with the nhs & only wish I could afford to pay privately, pretty sure my health would be a lot better. Make a complaint, if you dare, not only do you get fobbed off, (none of us understand the system, they think) BUT you get PENALISED and get lesser care than those who just accept whatever they're dealt. The system doesn't work as it is & the changes that were brought about made it worse! I know a few people who have said they don't get offered what they need BUT what ss or gp's THINK they need. This goes for medical care, at home care, hospital care & equipment, I buy most myself so I get what I actually need & what is useful. SS like people to be independent so they have a reason to make you "cope" in any way you can, be it good or bad, saves the system money tho. Last point to make, ever had medication changed because gp/nurse thinks it will be better for you? I was ill for 6 months as my inhalers were changed, took me couple months to get appointments to change them & 1 was done over the phone & due to error I ended up with 4 lots of same medication, surgery error & they don't like me using the online repeat prescription service, at least they send me a reminder & get the order correct!

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