Call for GP link-up to discuss patients’ views

Todmorden Health Centre, where Todmorden Group Practice is based
Todmorden Health Centre, where Todmorden Group Practice is based

A HEALTH watchdog hopes to meet with Todmorden Group Practice chiefs in the new year to raise patients’ concerns.

In his annual report, Patients’ Participation Group chairman Tony Greenwood said serious concerns remain over the appointments system – which he described as “survival of the fittest” – and “ludicrous” access to the practice, based at Todmorden Health Centre.

But a spokesperson for the practice said the current appointments system accommodates most people’s lifestyles.

Mr Greenwood said: “Sadly we have been unable to make any progress whatsoever in any of the areas which need liaison. Where we’ve been acting alone – like the outdoor gym project – we have been able to make a positive contribution.

“But regarding making a contribution here at the medical centre, which is really what we are supposed to be doing, it takes two to tango and we’ve been dancing alone.”

Mr Greenwood has written a letter to Todmorden Group Practice outlining the Patients’ Participation Group’s concerns, the most pressing of which is the appointments system.

Many patients are unhappy with the system and the Todmorden News has been sent several letters over the last few weeks highlighting their concerns about the difficulty in getting to see a doctor.

“What we are looking for is a bit more of a two-way approach,” Mr Greenwood said.

“We have a number of concerns to raise on behalf of the patients and clearly the most important one is the appointments system. That’s the issue on which most patients asked in our questionnaire raised a concern.

“We need to have somebody from the practice at our meetings to have a discussion with.

“We hope that is going to happen in the new year.

“We are aware that there have been staffing problems at the medical centre but that has not happened overnight. It has been a long-standing problem.

“To make any progress as a participating group, we need better organised and positive support from the practice over the coming year, otherwise we’ve just ticked a few boxes for the Primary Care Trust.”

A common cause of frustration among patients is the diffculty the current system poses for people who work out of town, with many unable to wait at home until 8am to ring up for an appointment on the same day.

A spokesperson for the practice said: “There is numerous literature available within the practice that explains the current appointments system.

“We have a list size of 13,600 patients and we cannot accomodate everyone.

“The Patients’ Participation Group conducted a survey in March and the majority of patients are happy with the current service provided.

“We are not obliged to provide a GP appointment within 48 hours anymore - the GP contract has changed. However, we do still try to accommodate this.

“You can always see a GP on the same day if your issue is urgent. We offer pre-bookable appointments if your issue is less urgent.

“We are not in position to please 13,600 people and we believe the current system accommodates most people’s lifestyles.”