"I can't get a GP appointment so go to A&E instead"
A consistent theme across all the reports was the frustration patients experience booking appointments. This is having a knock on effect on the rest of the system. Our report identified that one in five patients faced with long waiting times to see their GP are going to A&E instead.
The most common issue was with poor telephone systems. Nearly half (47 per cent) of those who responded to a survey by Healthwatch Liverpool said that booking over the phone wasn’t easy, with one resident in Halton reporting having to wait 47 minutes for someone to answer the phone.
The Government has set a target for all surgeries to offer online booking by March 2015, but a search by Healthwatch Enfield showed that two out of five local surgeries still don’t have their own website.
“When you phone first thing in the morning (8.30am) you are put in a holding queue. After 5 mins if you haven't been answered (which is always the case) you are automatically disconnected. This process can occur 2 or 3 times in a row. When you finally get through about 20 mins after surgery opens there are no appointments left!”
Respondent to Healthwatch Warwickshire