Dozens of patients forced to queue ‘over an hour’ for GP appointment only to be told ‘come back tomorrow’

11 April 2024, 10:15 | Updated: 11 April 2024, 10:25

Patients were forced to wait over an hour at Hilly Fields Medical Centre in Ladywell
Patients were forced to wait over an hour at Hilly Fields Medical Centre in Ladywell. Picture: Anna-Maria Cahalane

Do you have to queue to see your doctor? Get in touch

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Patients at a GP surgery in south London have been forced to wait outside the practice for ‘over an hour’, only to be told ‘come back tomorrow’.

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Patients at Hilly Fields Medical Centre in Ladywell, south London, have complained about being made to wait hours and even weeks just to speak to a doctor.

Anna-Maria Cahalane, who waited in the queue for at least an hour on Wednesday, told LBC that when you call reception to book an appointment at 8am, staff say: "You'd have a better chance [waiting] in queues."

Now that more residents have taken to waiting outside, the queue start time has been getting earlier and earlier, starting this week from 7.30am.

Despite the queue starting so early, the ‘majority’ of people were still turned away, according to Ms Cahalane.

Anna also claims that on Wednesday, the only appointments were given to children - at a different GP practice a bus ride away on a Saturday.

Patients were still turned away after queuing
Patients were still turned away after queuing. Picture: Anna-Maria Cahalane

Patients have also claimed they have been waiting two hours on the phone, only to be cut off at the last minute.

As has been the case at many GP surgeries across the country, getting an appointment to see a doctor has become increasingly difficult after the pandemic.

At Ms Cahalane's former surgery, which closed down at the start of Covid, patients were able to get an appointment within 'ten minutes of being on the phone'.

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A staff member at the surgery has blamed a 'lack of staff' for the long waits patients face.

“We are short of staff. We don’t have enough. There’s only two working on reception,” they told MyLondon.

“They [patients] can see it everyday they come here. It becomes really delayed on the phones. We are also short of doctors. We do the best we can.”

A spokesperson for the South East London Integrated Care Board, which oversees primary care in the area, said: “Hilly Fields Medical Centre apologised for the inconvenience patients experienced today.

“The practice is planning to implement a new call hub in the next 10 days which should improve their response to phone calls, and they will be launching an online triage system soon, which should also make it easier for patients to contact the practice.

“These actions are part of local work to implement the National Primary Care Access Recovery Plan.”

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