Lanark GPs’ new appointment system ‘a shambles’

Lanark Doctors, Woodstock Health Centre
Lanark Doctors, Woodstock Health Centre
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A patient of the Lanark Doctors practice has hit out at its new appointments system, condemning it as “an unmitigated shambles”.

That criticism from Thankerton pensioner William McLaughlin came after both he and his wife sought treatment using the new service, brought in after months of complaints about the previous first-come-first-served, daily appointments system.

He told the Gazette that his wife took ill on July 21 and spent 38 minutes trying to get through to the practice triage doctor.

The previous month, in pain, he also tried to get an appointment but gave up because of the cost of waiting on his mobile phone to get to the top of the call queue.

Desperate, he went to the surgery personally, only to be told to go away and phone for an appointment.

He remains in pain a month later.

“How this can be defined as an acceptable standard of patient care frankly beggars belief,” he said.

“If Lanark Doctors want to operate a telephone triage system, then it should be on a freephone number, and there should be appropriate staffing to answer calls from patients to avoid long queues forming.

“If this cannot be done to an acceptable standard, then we have to revert to the old system where a patient could come to the surgery to make an appointment. I did this and got turned away.”

His anger and frustration increased when he tried to complain via email to the new practice manager at Lanark Doctors only to be told by staff at Woodstock Medical Centre to write a letter instead as emails from patients are not accepted.

Said William: “This is the 21st century, not medieval times. All the time, more barriers are being erected between patients and the Lanark Doctors.

“Why? Because Lanark Doctors is not a patient-friendly practice and, quite frankly, is getting worse, not better.

“The current, so-called revised, system is for the benefit of the doctors to give them a quiet life and certainly not for the benefit of the patients.”

He added: “The wake-up call will come when a patient dies due to this unmitigated shambles of a system which is not fit for purpose.”

The Gazette requested a comment on Mr McLaughlin’s allegations from the practice on August 1 and is still awaiting a response. Mr McLaughlin sent a letter detailing all his complaints to the practice’s manager in July 22 and also still awaits a reply.