December 10 2013 Latest news:
By Kathryn Cross
Friday, September 6, 2013
A Fakenham surgery has apologised unreservedly to a frail pensioner after she was forced to travel to King’s Lynn on a bus for treatment after suffering a fall at home.
Sadie Boyce, 78, of Lancaster Close, in Fakenham, said despite taking a bus with a head injury to try and see a doctor at the Fakenham Medical Practice on Trinity Road she was told to go home and make an appointment.
The widow, who then took herself to hospital for treatment, said the Meditrina House surgery’s appointments-only procedure had failed her and since circulating a petition in the town calling for an end to the system and to create a more user-friendly phone answering system she was astonished to attract more than 100 signatures.
She said: “I hit my head on an iron bar and I was not feeling at all well so I took the bus to the surgery the next morning and I was told to go home and make an appointment. I had been up all night with a terrible headache. But I decided to take the bus to A&E at King’s Lynn and they couldn’t believe I hadn’t been seen at Fakenham straight away.
“Something has to be done about it – it can’t go on like this.”
Mrs Boyce said in another incident her taxi driver had to intervene to ensure she was seen by a nurse after she had been badly bitten by an insect.
“I came in from the garden and blood was pouring from a vein on my leg,” she said. “My grandson said I had to go straight to the doctor but when I rang they said there were no appointments. He called a taxi to take me there but when I got there they expected me to sit in a side room and wait to be assessed. The taxi driver made a fuss and luckily a nurse was walking through reception and saw me with a blood-soaked towel round my leg and treated me.”
She said that people who signed her petition told her they had also had similar experiences. They also objected to the receptionists asking too many questions about their personal medical history and had been told that if they didn’t answer the questions they wouldn’t get an appointment.
Practice manager Ann Kerrison said the system had let Mrs Boyce down on this occasion.
“All I can do is apologise because that is not what is meant to happen,” she said. “There may have been a communication breakdown because we want to see the people who are in the most clinical need.
“We used to have an open access system where you could turn up and ask to see someone straight away but it was becoming unsustainable. We were getting overwhelmed and doctors were concerned that the patients with serious illnesses would not be able to be seen quickly enough - the system was getting clogged.
“If someone comes in who is clearly unwell they will be seen straight away. We have a private interview room for people to wait to be assessed if they feel they need to be seen and don’t want to wait at home. They don’t have to discuss their medical history with the receptionists, they will be asked just two questions – a short description of the illness and why they feel they need to be seen that day – and they don’t have to give this information if they do not wish to. We do encourage people not to walk in but to ring in first and we have reduced the amount of time people will have to wait to get through on the phones by getting more staff.
“We cannot make it open access again and it is not through lack of staff but sometimes we can have 5,000 calls on a Monday morning. If we need to ring people back it will be within two hours.
“If something is not working we want to put it right but we think the system is settling down now and most people are satisfied with it.”