Shropshire Star

Health chiefs say there is no 'silver bullet' to solve problems accessing GPs in Telford

Health chiefs claim that there is no silver bullet to solve the problems people are having getting through to their doctor’s surgery.

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Councillor Karen Tomlinson

The NHS England GP Patient Survey revealed in August that residents of Telford and Wrekin are struggling to contact their doctor’s surgeries on the telephone.

Only one doctor’s surgery in the borough received a score of over 62 per cent when patients rated surgeries on how easy it is to contact their GP on the phone.

Councillor Karen Tomlinson has highlighted a problem at Wellington Medical Practice where just 11 per cent of survey participants had ease in getting through on the phone.

“There have been a lot of complaints from people being on the phone and after one hour they are cut off and have to pay,” said Councillor Tomlinson speaking at this week’s borough council health and wellbeing board meeting.

“They have then gone to the surgery and queued up for an appointment to find that they have gone anyway.”

She said said that she tells those people to complain, but many are elderly and reluctant to do so.

Wellington Medical Practice has been asked for a response to the claims.

Claire Parker, director of partnerships and place at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said that they were working on plans to make sure they were ‘moving forward’ in the access to primary care.

“Some things are related to the 8am Monday morning rush,” said Mrs Parker.

“Some phone lines struggle to cope, some practices are using the old analogue phone system.”

She added that there were post-Covid demands on primary care and that there was a lot of work planned in the next quarter of the year.

Mrs Parker added that a report would be brought back to Telford & Wrekin Council’s health and wellbeing board in six months.

Health and wellbeing committee co-chairman Simon Whitehouse added that ‘other places’ across the country were experiencing similar problems.

He said: “I don’t think there’s a silver bullet to solve GP access. We are looking at a number of options.

“The demand on practices has changed significantly since Covid-19.”

The Telford & Wrekin Council health and wellbeing board will discuss the access to GP services again at its next meeting in December.

Healthwatch Telford and Wrekin is currently asking patients to fill out a survey after becoming ‘very concerned’ about GP access in the borough.

The watchdog group will also be visiting each surgery in person to look at the accessibility of each practice.

The survey is available on the Healthwatch Telford & Wrekin website.