Britons call for more face-to-face GP appointments following string of misdiagnoses


“If I can go to the pub and sit down and have a drink with people and if I can go to the dentist, why can’t I go and see my doctor?

Leonard Griffiths, 78, phoned his surgery in Wirral, Merseyside, around eight times in the past fortnight but could not get through. He said: “I went to [the] surgery in person to ask for an appointment and was told, ‘You have to ring to make an appointment’.”

The grandfather of four had surgery to remove a cancerous lobe in his lung three weeks ago, but says he has not been able to see his GP about his recovery.

Leonard said: “If I can go to the pub and sit down and have a drink with people and if I can go to the dentist, why can’t I go and see my doctor?

“I’m now going to try to find another doctor.”

Andrea Rosenfeld, 75, was given antibiotics after a phone consultation about runny eyes.

She said: “It wasn’t clearing up so I phoned again and he said, ‘Send a photo’. He said it looked like dermatitis on my eyelids, but that was actually make-up.”

Andrea, from Enfield, north London, booked an appointment privately with a specialist.

She said: “It would have been a better diagnosis if I was seen in person. How can you tell from a photo what’s happening with somebody’s eye?”

John Butterworth, 68, has chronic lung disease and a heart condition. He claims he called his practice in Bradford once a month for a year but was only given phone appointments. He said: “This time last year when I first rang, I could walk a mile or so. Now I’m out of breath walking across my front room.

“You can ride on a bus or go to the supermarket with lots of people, yet I can’t see a doctor.”

Peter Eves, 71, contacted his GP in Swindon after suffering muscle and nerve pain in his groin. He worried it could be related to his Covid-19 jab but during a phone call a doctor said it was not and then refused to see him in person.

He said: “I complained to the practice and asked to see my normal GP [in person], which they arranged the next day. She’s now sending me for an ultrasound and an X-ray because she thinks it could be a hernia.”

NHS England wrote to GPs last week instructing them to ensure they are offering face-to-face appointments unless there is a clinical reason not to, such as Covid-19 symptoms.

Yesterday, the Royal College of GPs branded the letter “misjudged” and “demoralising”.

An NHS spokesman said: “NHS guidance, which makes sure that patients can access face-to-face appointments, has been widely welcomed by patients, and local health groups will work with practices to make sure patients get the services they need.”


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