Revealed: Surgery mergers and limited GP appointments cause ‘issues’ for North Somerset patients

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 February 2017

The hospital struggles to recruit doctors for its emergency department.

The hospital struggles to recruit doctors for its emergency department.

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Hundreds of people in North Somerset say they are struggling to book GP appointments, experiencing problems with treatment and medication and are finding it harder to get to surgeries in rural areas.

A survey commissioned by patient representative group Healthwatch North Somerset has shown people across the district are finding it harder to get appointments to see their doctor, while issues such as practice mergers and delays in carrying out referrals to hospitals also mean people are increasingly unhappy with their surgeries.

Some 209 people out of the 603 surveyed had experienced problems in making appointments, accessing their surgery or had faced issues with receiving treatment or ordering medication.

With regard to making appointments, some of the most common complaints from patients were that it was often difficult to get through by phone at certain times of the day and that all GP appointments were gone within minutes of a surgery’s phone lines opening.

A number of people also raised concerns about getting to their surgery, as practice mergers mean people in rural areas could be forced to travel to other villages to see a doctor.

People said they feared this would have a particularly bad effect on elderly patients, who may not be able to travel long distances.

NHS England said it would continue to work with North Somerset’s GP practice in light of Healthwatch’s findings.

Laila Pennington, the head of primary care for NHS England South West, said: “A number of recommendations are for practices themselves and as commissioners of primary care, our role is to encourage and support GP practices in trying to implement any changes. We will continue to work with practices in North Somerset to try to get the best care for patients.”

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