Allerton Medical Centre

0113 295 3460

Westfield Medical Centre

0113 467 9744

The Demand on GP Services – Why patients can feel let down and GPs are also frustrated

We currently have a project underway looking at how we can safely and effectively provide more face-to-face appointments, while being mindful of the fact that Covid-19 rates in Leeds are still rising (rates on 29 June were over 300 cases per 100,000, compared with 39 per 100,000 at the start of June). We’d welcome any feedback you have for us, either through comments below our Facebook post on the topic or by contacting the Practice through any of the usual channels (email: allerton.westfield@nhs.net).

Dr Ben Allen, a Sheffield GP, recently wrote an article for the Sheffield Telegraph about the current situation in general practice. His full article can be read below. We couldn’t improve on his words as he expresses so clearly how we currently feel.

“At times you may have experienced GPs being hard to get hold of or felt not listened to when you do. You may feel not taken seriously or feel ‘fobbed off’. I can’t imagine what it must be like if you’re ill or worried. It is understandable to feel angry. I’m sorry if this has happened to you. The cause is something that neither patients or GPs are in control of, but it is eroding the relationship between us nationally. GPs are overwhelmed by patient ‘demand’ and patients can feel let down by GPs. This situation is neither the fault of GPs or patients.

Why? What we are expected to achieve has increased far beyond funding and staffing, year on year, for well over a decade. With medical advancements, giving quality care becomes far more complex, people live longer with multiple conditions, and GP workload becomes exponentially more challenging. Hospital work shifts to GPs often without funding. Each tiny change drains more time.

The effects of this feels as devastating to us as it does to you. Most GPs became doctors because we care. And every day we are powerless to avoid communicating that we do not. Patients who used to adore their GP, now just feel they are an inconvenience and conclude we don’t care anymore. It’s so sad.

What can anyone do? Do consider first if you can find an alternative solution; 111 can help you, www.NHS.uk is great for known health problems or medications, and pharmacies can help with minor illnesses or medication queries. We do benefit from knowing a bit about your problem, as it helps us find you the best person. Engage with written resources we give out.

Every day, we need to divide our time between the needs of all patients. Instead of the quality, understanding, face to face conversation we would all prefer, we may need our reception to pass on messages or direct you to other services. This creates time for us to spend with those who need us most.

If you feel let down, it may be reasonable to feel angry, but please remain respectful to staff. Whilst most patients are understanding, abuse is a now a daily reality. Many of us can’t do a better job than we’re doing. It may get worse yet. The most important thing is that I want us not to blame or shame one another as most patients and doctors are doing the best they can.”