Outcry over GP surgery opening times

Nick Tupper
Nick Tupper
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Doncaster’s family doctors are facing a call for appointments to be made more convenient for patients after it emerged nearly one in six in the borough are unhappy with the hours.

Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton wants changes to be made after figures showed that 15 per cent of the borough’s residents – 45,597 - found their local surgery opening times inconvenient.

More than two-thirds of patients said they would like to be able to get appointments after work or on Saturday morning.

A third said they would like make appointment earlier in the morning, and the same number would like to be able to see a doctor on a Sunday.

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton said: “Thousands of people in Doncaster want to be able to book an appointment with a GP outside of normal working hours.

“It’s really tough for people to juggle their work and family commitments. Many constituents tell me how hard it is to squeeze in a visit to the GP.

“Surgeries should listen closely to what their patients are saying and offer more flexible opening hours, especially for working people.

“Ministers should instruct NHS England to ensure all GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups act on patients’ concerns.”

The figures were from a Labour Party survey.

Ange Sockett, 44, of Turnberry Court, Bentley has experieced problems getting an appointment.

She said: “My surgery is a part time one and only open for two hours in a morning and two hours in an evening and not at all on a Thursday, so if you’re ill on a Thursday you’ve had it. There is a surgery in Scawsby I can use with better opening times but it’s still not ideal.”

But Patricia Dickinson, of Roseland Drive said: “We’ve never really had any problems getting appointments. Sometimes you have to wait about a week for an appointment but if it’s an emergency you can always get in, we’re happy with the service, I’m surprised so many people are unhappy in Doncaster.”

And June Stokes, 58, who uses the Bentley Surgery said: “We’ve just had a letter saying the surgery will now be open from 7.30am to 7.30pm so I’m quite impressed with that, I think it’s pretty good because it means I can get an appointment after work.”

Dr Nick Tupper, Chair of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Doncaster GP surgeries are open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, but most also provide some appointments outside these working hours on certain days. Practices involve their patient groups, or registered patients, in helping to determine when appointments are offered outside normal hours.

“The GP out of hours service provides medical cover across Doncaster at all times when surgeries are closed.

“There is also an NHS health centre, based in the Flying Scotsman Centre in Doncaster town centre, which provides pre-booked appointments from 8am to 8pm every day of the year to registered and unregistered patients.

“Responsibility for managing contracts with GP practices, including agreeing their routine and extended opening times, now rests with NHS England. NHS Doncaster CCG has no direct influence on this process. However, as a CCG we recognise the importance of people being able to book appointments around their busy working and home lives and we are sure that NHS England will do its best to work with GPs to manage patients’ expectations.”

A spokesman for NHS England said:“NHS England is working with GPs to develop plans for improving access and the patient experience. We know that the majority of patients say they’re satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive, but a significant and growing minority of patients say they have problems making appointments at times that are convenient for them.”