PRESS RELEASE: Getting a GP appointment is like a mad scramble at the Boxing Day sales

Desperate constituents have contacted me because they cannot get an appointment at Skeith Medical Centre. We all know there are not enough GPs to meet the demand for appointments, so GP practices are forced to introduce mechanisms for managing that demand. In practice that means making it so difficult to get an appointment that people give up – and so demand reduces.

This is a dangerous and unjust way of rationing healthcare.

At Skeith, appointments for the following week are released at 2pm on a Monday and Wednesday, and it is virtually impossible to get one by phone because people who queue in person take precedence. This discriminates against people who for whatever reason cannot get to the surgery at these times. Getting a GP appointment has become like a mad scramble at the Boxing Day sales.

It is also inefficient as the number of missed appointments has soared under this system.

Helping surgeries like Skeith to find better ways of organising access to primary healthcare should be an absolute priority for NHS Fife, and I have written to NHSFife’s Director and Fife Council’s Spokesperson for Health & Social Care to ask for an urgent action plan

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