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Why is it so hard to contact GP surgeries? | Letters



Violence towards GPs and their staff is deplorable, and it is right to castigate the government for lack of attention and investment in the service (GPs tell of ‘appalling’ abuse as violence at UK surgeries worsens, 31 May). However, while nothing excuses violence, there are other problems in the GP service that are causing increased frustration to the public.

The service has changed over the years and no longer gives 24-hour, first-line cover for all health problems, but the public has not adapted fully to this situation. Another problem is that it is now very difficult to access the service.

I work as a secondary care consultant paediatrician, sharing a building with two general medical practices. These are still adopting full Covid precautions despite Welsh government advice that this is no longer necessary. The place is nearly empty from 9.30am to 6pm. This may well be because much of the clinical work is being done over the telephone. However, many practices have not adapted to this new situation of an arm’s-length practice with increased use of phones.


I often wish to consult GP colleagues about patients who have shared care between us. However, when I try to phone practices, I receive an automated reply and am offered numbers to press that vary with my needs. This week, I patiently followed the directions, seeking blood test results on a patient, only to be informed that I was number 29 in a queue. Being with the patient, it was impossible to wait, and I proceeded as best I could without the information.

Many GP surgeries need to adapt their communications systems to deal with the increase in clinical practice carried out by phone and patients having to communicate more by that route. They also need special hotlines to communicate with colleagues.
Robin Davies
Tregarth, Gwynedd

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