Health chiefs have warned GPs that failing to offer appointments in person is a “breach of contract” as concerns grow that Covid-19 is leaving patients across Britain without crucial consultations.
A letter will be sent to every family doctor in England, in which GPs will be told that they must carry out face-to-face appointments or risk being investigated. Following reports of a crippling NHS backlog, patients have been left unsatisfied with a lack of face-to-face contact.
To gain an insight into how Covid-19 has impacted surgeries across Britain, we’ve heard from Telegraph readers to find out whether they feel that healthcare services have been compromised.
‘I was told that over 800 people had made appointments’
“I received a letter from my GP surgery saying I needed a flu vaccine and to phone one of two numbers to arrange on a specific date, the jab being administered in the underground car park of a shopping centre. An email address was also provided if the phone failed.
“I phoned both numbers from my mobile, my wife’s mobile, my home phone and each time it cut out ringing immediately. My email on the subject was returned as not an available service.
“I rang the surgery and was told it was my phone that was the problem. I phoned a second time, a day later and was told that over 800 people had made appointments and that I should keep ringing the appointment number. Just another episode in the merry go round.”
‘Surgeries are completely closed’
“Is it an insult to imply they haven’t been doing their jobs?
“Clearly some GPs have been providing some services, but it’s a fact that in many cases, surgeries are completely closed.
“Patients are told to ring 111 if they need to be seen and are then told only zoom is available (a lot of use to someone in their 90s who has no internet access and was told not to allow anyone in the house, so no help to set it up from young relatives).
“We’re also told to buy our own blood pressure monitors and test kits for blood samples and email the results. This happened to me.”
‘My wife is having to manage her own lung disease’
“My wife has a long standing lung disease and as a former Biomedical Scientist, specialising in Microbiology, has largely managed her own condition for many years along with the help of our local GP surgery.
“She has deteriorated and had several chest infections this year, and also developed an ear problem. She has twice received over the phone advice from two different GPs from our practice, who have never met her before.
“After only marginal improvement following the second ground of antibiotics, last Friday she phoned the surgery again, in the hope that this time she would be seen. The triage process told her that a GP would call her back after 2:00 p.m. on Monday and she is still waiting for that phone call.
“Our own daughter is a GP and can’t understand why my wife has not been seen. Surely GPs, who have gone through many years of training to practice, cannot gain job satisfaction from going through a checklist. Stop protecting yourselves and see patients face to face, especially the over 60s.”