Northampton

Queuing at NHS GP surgery in Wellingborough 'a bit 19th Century'

Patients queuing Image copyright Joanne Buckland
Image caption Patients queuing outside the GP surgery in Wellingborough say they often cannot get through on the phone

Patients have taken to queuing outside a doctors surgery before it opens to try to get an appointment.

Those in the queue at Queensway Medical Centre in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, said they found it difficult to see a GP another way.

David Jones, of Healthwatch Northamptonshire, said "standing out in the rain to see a doctor feels a little bit 19th Century".

The surgery said it was aware of issues and was looking at new ways to book.

One patient who is recovering from breast cancer told the BBC patients "have to come and queue".

Other comments included "when you phone up you can't get an answer" and "the best way to get an appointment is to come and queue before they open up".

Image copyright Joanne Buckland
Image caption Patients queued in the rain this Wednesday and have said "the best way to get an appointment is to come and queue before they open up"

Mr Jones, whose organisation acts as a patients' watchdog, said there was a "challenge" for people to see a doctor, and the number of health professionals coming into the NHS is lower than those leaving.

'No quick fix'

Analysis for the BBC by the Nuffield Trust think tank showed the NHS was seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers for 50 years.

Mr Jones said that over the next five to 10 years more GP surgeries will have health professionals who are not doctors, to try to ease pressures.

NHS England said more than 20,000 extra physiotherapists, pharmacists, paramedics and support workers were being recruited to work alongside GPs.

Paul Crofts, from the Queensway Medical Centre's patients group, said there was "no simple quick fix" to the problems of making an appointment.

He said: "GP and nurses are caring people and they don't want to see people queuing."

He said the surgery is looking at implementing Doctor Link, an online system where symptoms are entered and the patients is advised whether a doctor's appointment is needed or another health professional such as a pharmacist, would be more appropriate.

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