Letters, calls and emails: Access changes are fantasy in NHS crisis

Dear Editor

I read about the DoH wanting us to increase our opening hours, with resignation but not surprise (GP, 2 February).

A couple of weeks ago I received a patient questionnaire, as ‘Mrs D M Lowry’. I wrestled with my conscience and sent it back uncompleted with a note.

But not before I read it.

The questions were relatively harmless until I came to the one about opening hours.

This was the gist of it: ‘Are you happy with the hours your GP Practice is open? If “yes”, tick box and go to next question; if “no”, select from any or all of the following:

‘I would like the surgery to open earlier in the morning.

‘I would like the surgery to stay open later at night.

‘I would like the surgery open on Saturday.

‘I would like the surgery to be open on Sunday.

‘I would like the surgery open more.’

Now most patients, who have no idea of the many issues this would involve, will tick at least one of those boxes.

One of my friends, with no coercion, wrote on the questionnaire that he didn’t feel surgeries should be open longer, because doctors needed time to do home visits and see their families. This comment was not picked up by the person who analysed the questionnaires, although many negative ones were. Perhaps they work for the DoH too.

Money is being wasted trying to find out what patients might want in an ideal world when the hospital system is falling apart due to targets, managers and falling numbers of beds.

We all have wish lists, but they have to be based in reality, unless you work for the DoH.

GPs do their best to support patients against the odds, while all the DoH can do is complain that we didn’t play the quality framework according to ‘the rules’ so we must be punished.

Dr Diana Lowry

Epping, Essex

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