Lanark's Woodstock Medical Centre is called out

Patients in Lanark have run out of patience, trying to get appointments at Woodstock Medical Centre.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 7:00 am
Growing public concern over GP appointments in Lanark saw a meeting being held this week.
Growing public concern over GP appointments in Lanark saw a meeting being held this week.

The Gazette has been inundated with complaints from fed-up patients who have been kept waiting on calls, only to be told there are no appointments.

Eddie Poyner, a volunteer driver with Lanarkshire Cancer Care, is one among a growing number who have faced issues.

He said: “Initially I was 48th in the queue and hating every second of Pachelbel’s Canon as it screeched along intermittently.

“Every so often, there was progress ... number 31, 25, 12, 2 ... the excitement was palpable.

“Finally, a non recorded voice told me the dreaded words: there are no more appointments today; there may be some tomorrow as more doctors will be on. More? Two rather than one?

“How did it come to this? How was it allowed to happen that the family doctor became extinct?”

Jenny Gilbert also tried for three days to get an appointment, to no avail.

Her nephew Neil Campbell said: “She could not suffer over the weekend so I called NHS 24. They were lovely, however, the nurse told her to contact her GP to get an appointment only to go full circle and be told there were none.

"It’s not acceptable. People need to be given access to a doctor but many are not being seen.”

A spokesman for LMG Lanark said the team at Woodstock Medical Centre was working tirelessly to provide a high level of care.

He added: “Demand for access to GPs is exceptionally high at present.

"Like most GP practices, we operate a system where patients phoning for an appointment are offered a telephone consultation that day.

"We are aware that at times some patients can have difficulty accessing appointments. However, we are working hard to ensure that we are in a position to meet clinical demand.

“We would like to apologise for any patients who have experienced difficulty getting through to the practice.

“We would ask that, where at all possible, patients utilise the other services available to access advice, such as NHS Inform, pharmacy minor ailment schemes and optometry eye services to free up appointments for those who need to be seen.

“The vast majority of patients are able to have their presenting clinical symptoms dealt with by a relevant healthcare professional over the phone.

“For those patients that require a face-to-face consultation, this is being undertaken using Near Me video consulting or an in person appointment where this offers additional clinical benefit.

"Patients will only receive a face-to-face appointment if necessary, for physical examination or if tests need to be carried out.”

Alistair MacKintosh, NHS Lanarkshire primary care manager, admitted that capacity in hospital and community care settings was not back to pre-Covid levels.

He said: "We’re committed to working alongside LMG Lanark – and many other practices – to assist them in trying to re-establish many of the services which were routinely accessed by GPs prior to the pandemic.

“We have held regular productive meetings with the practice and continue to work closely with them to ensure the people of Lanark receive the best possible care.

“Unfortunately, in light of infection control measures, physical distancing and the associated need to clinically prioritise patients, capacity in both hospitals and community care is not currently as great as it was.

“The net result of this is that patients are having longer to wait to access many services, as well as there being a reduced ability for GPs to see patients.

“A consequence of this is that many patients, having had their initial symptoms diagnosed and referral made to other services, are calling their GP to request when they will be seen and/or seeking further assistance due to a change in or an exacerbation of their condition.

"In turn, this has resulted in a steep increase in the number of calls to be managed at GP level.

“We are working alongside the Scottish Government to look at implementing changes that will help take some of the pressure off telephone lines at GP practices.”

On Monday, Clydesdale MSP Mairi McAllan met with Councillor Julia Marrs and Craig Cunningham, head of performance at South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

She said: “I am deeply concerned to hear the experiences of some of my constituents.

"I’m planning a series of meetings to learn more about the issues and to find solutions.”