Lanark GP survey: have your say on the issues

A worried mum set up an online survey to gauge public opinion on Woodstock Medical Centre in Lanark.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:15 pm
Worried mum Irene Donnelly set up the survey in a bid to give people in the town a collective voice.
Worried mum Irene Donnelly set up the survey in a bid to give people in the town a collective voice.

In just over a week, more than 420 people have shared their views on the service provided.

And the results make for damning reading, with the majority feeling let down by the practice.

Irene Donnelly, who was brought up in the town and lives here with her daughter, launched the survey amid growing concerns locally.

Issues at Woodstock existed long before the pandemic and patients are now losing patience.

She said: “I have experienced issues myself and it worries me how many others I have spoken to that have also had issues or take to Facebook to voice their concerns.

"Even through the complaints procedures, and as we come out of lockdown, we don’t seem to be seeing any substantial changes.

"The issues have been here long before Covid, in any case.

"Many dread having to call because it’s stressful and they get turned away after waiting in a queue for over an hour and asked to call the following day – then have the same experience day after day.

"I worry for those that are not able to access the care they need because of the appointment system.”

That’s why Irene set up the survey, asking people to answer 10 simple questions – each with multiple answers, both positive and negative.

She said: "I wanted to create a collective voice which could be fed back to the surgery.”

Many people have complained in recent weeks about the appointment process at Woodstock Medical Centre in Lanark.

Busy mum Irene is among them; however, she is now also working in a bid to help resolve the problem.

She is meeting with Craig Cunningham, head of performance at South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership and Dr Sharon Russell to share the findings of the survey so far.

Some 61 per cent of respondents reported they were unable to get an appointment when they needed one and 64 per cent rated the GP services in Lanark as ineffective.

She hopes that a collective voice will help to finally resolve issues at the surgery, which existed long before the pandemic.

Irene said: “I understand the issues must be complex but immediate action is needed to ensure the people of Lanark get access to preventative health care and treatment.

“I am sure other practices experience the same funding challenges, with a growing number of patients and have had to navigate new ways of operating through the pandemic, but many others seem to be working better.

“The survey has now been completed by a large number of patients; if we take this as a good representation of the people of Lanark, then the majority experienced an ineffective service, where they could not get an appointment or consultation with a doctor when they needed one.

"I am an optimist; by launching this survey I wanted to give people a collective voice to help drive change once and for all.

“We now need to look at this collectively to see the real extent of the issues and how we can resolve them.

“The people of Lanark have waited long enough and have run out of patience.”

To access the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/VBH3ZVM.

Clydesdale MSP Mairi McAllan and Julia Marrs, SNP councillor for Clydesdale North, met to discuss the “longstanding and renewed concerns” about Woodstock with Craig Cunningham last week.

The local politicians discussed when the patient forum will be running and enquired about a replacement phone line for the practice. They also asked whether more staff could be considered to help alleviate some of the pressure.

Both Ms McAllan and Ms Marrs were clear that while staff are working hard and pandemic pressures persist, historic problems at Woodstock could not be allowed to continue without action to address them, in particular, improvements with the phone booking system.

Ms McAllan said: "It’s clear that while staff are working hard, issues remain which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The health and well-being of constituents is of the utmost importance, so I am keen to help find solutions to relieve pressure on the practice and – crucially – to ensure the people of Lanark get the health services they require.

“As a starting point, I would like to see the Patient Forum set up as soon as possible and a timeline in place for changing the phone appointment service.”