Waiting for an appointment.

By: A.C.

Quite a number of years back, my GP was granted the right to take on diabetes care in the community.

Now that might seem like a good idea, but always remember that GPs are a private contractor to the NHS.

Getting an appointment at this surgery is now into the two week zone. In fact they have announced as much on their website. Their reasons are as follows:

  • More and more patients are registered at the practice.
  • 25% of their doctors have left the practice over the last few years and have not been replaced
  • The ageing population and the new services which they need are increasing workload

Why do they think these things are happening?

  • Hundreds of new houses are being built, apparently without consideration of if there are adequate facilities in the area.
  • Not enough new GPs are being trained to replace retiring doctors and cope with the expanding casebooks
  • The high cost of living in the North East puts GPs off moving here, which makes it hard to attract staff.

I have quite a bit of sympathy with their position, as far as the gold rush by certain property developers is concerned, without taking any notice of what happens in the community at large. All kinds of facilities are required for mature communities that get more houses foisted on them.

However, it would seem that when even a GP’s practice has to finally point a finger at “the powers that be” that maybe there is too much of a headlong rush to profit and development in Aberdeen.

What has that to do with Diabetes Care?

Well I always thought that I was a single living unit, and that I was not just a pancreas. Different Chronic conditions affect a patient in many different ways. In short, we are whole beings, not just a disease or condition.

We all know the tyranny of ATOS computer software, and it would appear that my GP & his Diabetes Nurse is also ruled by this monster. Ticking boxes, and filling out statistics, means they rattle along in the allotted time, and no doubt feeling positive that they are getting through the clinic workload in good time.

The patients on the other hand might be less than impressed at the lack of listening as the medics gather statistics and offer stock advice. It would appear that only Diabetes related symptoms are allowed in that clinic. I was told to make a separate appointment for other symptoms. I now refer you back to the GPs apology for keeping patients waiting for up to two weeks.

Treating a patient as a “Disease” or a “Condition” and not looking at their situation as a whole is not good for anyone’s health or wellbeing.

Not being an expert in the way the NHS and Health Boards are set up, I am though, very experienced with how my body works. I know what I can and cannot do. I simply want my GP to listen to me. Not treat me as an economic unit that costs his practice cash.

So why do the medical profession seem to be not listening? Is it the lack of time, the tyranny of the software, lack of staff, planners building more houses, not enough GP’s because there are not enough students who can afford the University course?

At least my GP was upfront with their reasons for the time taken to get an appointment. Then again maybe they should have left Diabetes Care with the Hospital instead of taking on more work?

Scottish Patients is an organisation that advocates for those who need advice and help in medical care.

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