LETTER: Why is making an appointment to see a doctor such a rigmarole?

Today I received a letter from my GP at the Greenway Medical Practice in Cleckheaton asking me to contact the surgery to arrange a telephone interview with a Doctor.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 11:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 11:36 am
GP Doctors NHS.

I followed said instruction and at 4.30pm was number one in the queueing system, although it was somewhat concerning that this prime spot resulted in a 24-minute pick-up wait.

When the call was answered it became apparent that advising I had a letter was not enough evidence for the receptionist, who wanted more detail about why I needed this interview and those famous words “what is it about?”

It really does concern me that the reception staff should know about my health: Would you ask the receptionist at your child’s school about his/her progress and discuss their next learning pathway?

I was then told there were only two doctors on at the moment, and that I should have phoned earlier.

Now don’t get me on about the postal deliveries in these parts and how late they are, as I may need my own newspaper column!

I was asked to phone back the next day to book a telephone interview.

I explained I work, so cannot phone until the end of the day when it’s “too late”, particularly as even when number one in the queuing system it is a 24-minute wait for an answer.

I was then told: “There’s only two of us on to answer all these calls and you have to phone on the day for an interview on the day.”

I explained I work so this isn’t possible and I was advised: “You get a lunch hour don’t you? Phone up then.”

What fantastic advice - I get a lunch half-hour, eating and a comfort break are a priority and that doesn’t leave me 25 minutes for the phone to be answered.

Moreover, the phone would never be answered during my lunch break as the doctors’ surgery is shut for a full hour.

I can vent my spleen on this approach from the so-called caring profession, I can write to the papers and complain to the practice manager - but what about the elderly, the infirm and those mentally unstable?

Who cares about them?

Where is the quality of opportunity, why is it so difficult to speak with a doctor at their request, and how much money is wasted, writing and sending out letters which they cannot action?

Hasn’t anyone worked out that the phone lines are busy and the receptionist is pressured as a consequence?

So why ask patients, many of whom may be unwell, to keep clogging them with repeat calls because in 2017 we cannot think or book a day ahead?

C Butler, Oxford Walk, Gomersal