A man is so fed up with fighting to get a face-to-face appointment with his doctor that he staged a sit-in protest in the waiting room.
Stevan Richardson, 60, who has suffered from degenerative arthritis, depression and declining mental health since being hospitalized after a hard fall in October, sat next to a homemade sign reading “Peaceful Protest.” I want to “see” a “doctor”.
Mr Richardson went to Sydenham House Medical Center in Ashford, Kent, but was told he had to book an appointment by phone or through the eConsult online booking system.
But she said she can’t use either option and wants to book a face-to-face appointment at the surgery reception.
Stevan Richardson (pictured), 60, who suffers from degenerative arthritis, depression and declining mental health, got so fed up with fighting to get a face-to-face appointment with his doctor that he staged a sit-in protest while waiting . room
‘Peaceful protest. I want to ‘see’ a ‘doctor’: Mr Richardson sat next to a homemade sign (pictured) in the waiting room at Sydenham House Medical Centre, in Ashford, Kent.
This comes after it was revealed that only one in eight GP appointments are face-to-face in England’s worst-performing practices, with a national average of 71 per cent, the highest since before the pandemic.
The Government’s first ‘league table’, designed to ‘name and shame’ surgeries to see more patients in person, showed 12 per cent of consultations were in person in October at some practices in London.
Mr. Richardson said he can’t afford to wait in the 8 am phone queue because he says sometimes he won’t have reached anyone, but will have spent too much money waiting.
He said he can’t access eConsult on his phone and isn’t tech-savvy so he has to ask a friend to book appointments online for him, adding that he wants an in-person consultation with a doctor to get in the right mindset. adequate. health diagnosis.
He said that he had not experienced these problems before the Covid pandemic.
After he failed to see a doctor there, he sat in the waiting room with the sign, a sandwich, a coffee and BBC Radio 2 on his headphones.
He waited there for 30 minutes before someone offered him a phone consultation, which he declined because it wasn’t face-to-face.
Shortly thereafter, the practice manager arrived with another worker but, despite a 45-minute conversation, was unable to see a doctor.
He said: ‘I’m screaming for help and no one is listening. A phone call is not going to help my situation.
‘Originally, the practice manager spoke to me, and then I saw a man who is not a doctor.
‘I could switch to another practice, but I shouldn’t have to. They’re just not listening.
‘As far as I’m concerned, I can go to my dentist and get an appointment without a prescription, but you have to phone or use the e-consultation at the doctor.
‘I can’t do any of those things, where am I supposed to go?
“I’m struggling with my mental health right now, and even thinking to myself, I don’t look very good.”
Senior staff at Sydenham House (pictured) said they are trying to improve access to surgery.
He said ‘I initially went to the receptionist and got the usual, ‘call 8am or book via eConsult’, which I can’t use.
‘So I showed them the sign, then I went and sat down with a coffee, a sandwich and some music from Radio 2.
‘Then 30 minutes later a receptionist came up to me and said we had booked her a phone consultation.
“I said, ‘no, I want face to face.’
“Eventually, the practice manager took me into a room and I met another guy, but apparently he’s not a doctor.
‘That consultation took 45 minutes, but if he had given me an appointment it would have taken 10 minutes.’
Mr Richardson added: ‘On 4th October this year I fell from the second or third step of my stairs.
“I suffer from degenerative arthritis in my lower back, and I fell on my lower back and landed very hard. I ended up in the hospital for 15 hours.
‘Ever since then I have wanted to see someone about my mental health. I was able to see someone when I was in the hospital, and since then I have received help from the hospital.
‘I can’t afford to put the money on my phone, if you call at 8am and can’t get through and that’s ten pounds wasted.
‘Since the protest, I have gone back to surgery, but they repeated the same thing: use the phone or eConsult.
‘I’m trying to get help for my mental health and people won’t listen, and when people don’t listen with mental health it makes things worse.
‘Is not acceptable. not everyone can use eConsult, I’m not very good with computers.’
Senior staff at Sydenham House said they are trying to improve access to surgery.
A spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of this patient’s recent experience.
We are working to improve access to practice and realize it can be frustrating for those who have difficulty getting through.
“Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment further.”
A study also revealed yesterday that five million people a month cannot book a GP appointment when they want one and the number doubles in a year.
The graph of GP services in England that provided the fewest in-person appointments in October (red), fewest GP visits (purple) and fewest same-day appointments (green) . The NHS noted that its data is experimental, so it may be of poor quality and subject to change. And some GP services have a digital-first approach
NHS Digital data for England in October shows that more patients were seen face to face since Covid first arrived in the UK (71.3 per cent). Officials have told doctors to see more patients in person due to concerns about missed diagnoses.
Millions more are left waiting more than a month to be seen, which could force them into crowded ERs or leave them at risk of serious illness being diagnosed too late.
The situation has worsened dramatically, with numbers that cannot be seen by a GP soaring from 2.7 million in October 2021 to 5.2 million this October, according to Labor Party analysis of NHS figures. .
Patients struggling to see their GP face-to-face has been a growing problem since the pandemic, and the problem will only get worse as GPs have voted to reduce their working hours to 9-5.
News broke last month that a GP was running online consultations for patients at his West Sussex surgery, some 260 miles away from the comfort of his £585,000 Cornish home.
Dr Justine Hall is one of three doctors working at Rudgwick Medical Center near Horsham, West Sussex, and has her name in bold letters on the gold plaque outside the surgery.
Members of the public also criticized the sweeping proposal, saying it will make it even more difficult for patients to get appointments.
The surgery has recently experienced “great demand” for its services, according to a recorded message from Dr. Hall herself on her phone system.