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The Big Picture
The Big Picture: Is your surgery in good health?
How do you rate your local GP surgery? Is it fit for service or does it need patching up? Join the debate with BBC Radio Derby's Aleena Naylor.
You and your doctor...
What's it like trying to get an appointment? Can you usually get in the same day? Or do you dread phoning as you know you'll be told it'll be next week at the earliest?
Do you find your surgery friendly and approachable? Or is it impersonal and alienating?
Have you seen an improvement in service over the past few years or have things got worse? Does your local surgery have a 'can do' approach - or is it more a case of 'no way'?
The Big Picture...
For the latest edition of our Big Picture series, Aleena Naylor is asking you to rate your local GP surgery.
Recently the government has been trialling the idea of keeping GP surgeries open later into the evening and it also wants to open up dozens of new surgeries around the country.
But would NHS money be better spent on investment in treatment, staff and equipment?
Dr John Grenville, secretary of Derbyshire Local Medical Committee, said: "We don't have a problem with the idea of staying open later into the evening.
"The difficulty is that the government isn't actually offering any extra resources to do it with.
"We'll have to heat and light the buildings, pay the staff and, of course, the GPs to do the work.
"We need to make sure that's a cost effective way of doing things when we're not absolutely sure how many patients will want to be seen later in the evenings - particularly when it's dark, raining and buses aren't particularly frequent."
Have your say...
Dr Grenville will be joining Aleena at 10am on Wednesday, 6th February to talk about the way forward with listeners and visitors to this site.
You can make your point and send your questions to Dr Grenville using the form below.
My GP Surgery uses 0844 numbers that cost up to 5p a min to call and you could wait up to 10 minutes on some days to get through to make an appointment. There are few advance appointments that are offered to patients. The staff in the practice are OK but I believe the doctors could have improved training in medical knowledge including carrying out preventative health tests that some GPs often miss.
Ten out of ten for the Green Lane Surgery, Belper. They give you the appointment at the time and day that I wanted. No complaints.
I don't want to bore you with all the detail, but over a period of 15 months I saw three different doctors at my local practice with symptoms of breathlessness, pains in my left arm and excessive belching any time I exerted myself (I was then 57 years old).
Another point worth mentioning is that on my insistence my cholesterol level was measured and found to be twice the target figure. To me as a non-medical person these are classic symptoms of someone with a potential heart condition, but my doctors were convinced, at various stages, that I had asthma, a stomach ulcer, indigestion and eventually concluded that my stomach produced too much acid. I was given cholesterol lowering drugs and acid suppressant.
The next key point was when I had a minor knee operation and the anaesthetist asked me about the medication I was taking and concluded that my condition had been misdiagnosed. He wrote to my doctor advising that I should have a treadmill test to assess the condition of my heart. The doctor convinced me that the anaesthetist was wrong and wouldn't recommend the test.
After a further 3 months of the same symptoms, I went back to the head of the practice and very reluctantly he sent me for a treadmill test. This proved there was a problem and a further angiogram revealed a 95% blockage in one of my main coronary arteries. This has now been stented and I am perfectly OK, but it is frightening to think of what could have happened had I not made an absolute nuisance of myself.
Talking to friends and colleagues my case seems to be quite common experience. One has to ask if there is pressure on doctors not to refer patients for testing or, simply, whether there is enough emphasis/ training to recognise this major killer of people of my age group.
Was ANDY happy with the price he paid to see his Vet? If he is happy to pay £20 or £30 for the dog to see the Vet perhaps he would be happy to pay the same to see his GP. If the government continues on the path they have set out for General Practice then Andy will get his wish.
The other week I was sick and called my GP in Willington. They told me that the next appointment with my Doctor was in 9 days.
When my dog was sick, I phoned his VET, they asked when when would I like to bring him (up to 10pm that day or 8 Sat or 4 Sun.). When we got there the receptionist gave the dog a treat. The appoinment was on time. The VET came from the room to collect us, checked him out, looked at his records on the computer, gave us a prescription (which we got from the vets, not having to find a chemists shop).
A better service all round. GP's could learn a lot from VETS practices.
Our surgery has fine doctors and several of them but the staff in reception make getting an appointment or any information a demanding task. They're rude, ignorant and on times have denied booking appointments for the nurse or other services even when you show up with their handwriting on a slip. With the exception of one poor lady who works so hard and is as nice as they come, it's no longer a nice place to go where in the past you'd be welcomed by name and made to feel welcome by older staff who've unfortunately left now.
My surgery is pretty good - except for the 'same day' appointments...
I moved from a suburban area of the town to the city and have to say, inner city practices standards are well below what I have become accustomed to. My old practice made me feel welcome, my doctor took time to listen to me and was very personable. I am now on my 2nd "inner city" practice and I find the staff and doctors to be rude and not willing to listen. I feel like I am on a production line now - As soon as I walk through the door, every fibre of the staff and doctors being seems to be focused on getting me out as quickly as possible.
My large practice seems very impersonal since government targets. Some duty doctors seem satisfied to say there is no need to see them without being able to judge on the phone. I once ended up in the Fast Track at the DRI after this and another time I actually needed a grommet in my ear. I also ended up in casualty one night when NHS Direct was providing night cover: their recorded message just said the service could not cope with the number of calls. One was advised to call back after 9am the next day or look at www........
I have been a practice nurse in a single-doctor village surgery for the last 15 years. Over the last few years I have witnessed an anti-GP government spin campaign aimed at negatively influencing the general public's opinions about their GP practices. Barely a day goes by without some snipe in the media. The reality is that we have an ageing workforce of GPs, many of whom will consider retiring earlier than they had planned if the situation deteriorates further. The public only see the work that is done during surgery open hours - they have no idea of the time GPs spend trawling through mounds of unnecesary paperwork that we have seen multiply 10 fold in as many years! For every hour spent seeing patients, your GP will be at his desk for the equivalent time. The latest urge to see practices open in the evenings and at weekends will see the death of smaller surgeries who cannot possibly offer this as it only achievable in a large surgery where a team of doctors can operate a rota.
This is the government's long term plan of course - to see the end of traditional family doctor practices and replace them with impersonal "super surgeries" where you will be a computer number and nothing else... In our village surgery, we are proud that we know our patients by name, we know generations of the families and their life stories- not just computer numbers. Staff working in surgeries are also patients themselves, we are not superhuman implants! The general public should support their surgeries anad the NHS as a whole for once, before we lose it to the private sector!
last updated: 08/04/2008 at 17:25