After regional MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife heard concerns from her patients that local GP’s are no longer taking bookings for appointments over the phone, but online-only, Heartland Multimedia reached out to find out if Highland Perthshire is still offering this service.
Getting in touch with the Aberfeldy and Kinloch Rannoch Medical Practice, Practice Manager, Alice Maxwell, confirmed that they will be continuing to arrange appointments over the phone.
The practice team at the centre took to Facebook to explain why people have been given the false impression that they are being re-directed from the practice, which the team ‘would like to reassure this isn’t the case.’
There they explained that: “Our reception team are coming under a great deal of pressure from some patients, and we see a need to clarify what happens when you speak to a member of our reception team.
“Our reception team are experts at ‘signposting’. They don’t direct you elsewhere so that we can avoid seeing you. Our reception team will ask what the problem is, no matter why you want an appointment.
“They aren’t nosey, and they’ve undoubtedly heard it all before. They ask you about your problem because they want you to have the most appropriate appointment in the quickest time possible.
“If you’re telling us that you have severe chest pain, we don’t want you waiting a few hours to see us; we want you to call 999. This happens more frequently than you might think, and often our reception team will call 999 to get help to you, because of the symptoms you mention.”
The team emphasised that they want to prioritise the most severe conditions and help patients get the help they need the fastest they can.
They added: “Sometimes you might want to see a GP for something that one of our nurses does routinely. For these we might have availability this week, but you might need to wait two weeks for a non-urgent appointment with your GP.
“We’re encouraged to send people with a cold, diarrhoea or other minor ailments to the pharmacy. Again, this isn’t because we don’t want to see you; this is because having minor ailments dealt with at the pharmacy means we have more appointments available to deal with suspected cancers, mental health problems and chronic conditions.”
‘Not wanting to see you’ is not what the practice want to do, they added: “In short, each one of our team became part of the NHS family because we want to help our patients, so please don’t feel that we don’t want to see you. Sometimes we can get a quicker, more appropriate result for you by asking you to see someone who isn’t your usual GP. “
Raising her concerns about patients across Mid Scotland and Fife not being in a position to make arrangements to see their GP, Lis Smith said: “In recent days, l have been approached by several constituents who are worried about these changes which advise patients who wish to make an appointment that they will have to make an online booking rather than phone in to the surgery.
“Not surprisingly, this is causing significant concern and anxiety not least because it has a disproportionate and detrimental effect on those patients who are older and more vulnerable and who do not have access to or do not feel comfortable using online appointment procedures. I will be raising this issue in Parliament this week.”