Worries over appointment demand at Watton Medical Practice
09:40 16 April 2014
Concerns have been raised in Watton over the GP surgery’s ability to cope with the town’s growing population.
Complaints made on the NHS England website, via the online forum Streetlife and to this newspaper have highlighted patients’ frustration over the length of time taken to get appointments at the Watton Medical Practice on Gregor Shanks Way.
The doctors’ surgery – the only one serving the town – has more than 200 appointment spaces a day and is open from as early as 7am until 6.30pm, covering Watton and 15 surrounding villages.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said he is aware of patients’ concerns, citing the “pace of new housing development, combined with our ageing society and a longer life expectancy putting pressure on local health services”.
He said: “I have received a number of letters and emails raising concerns from local residents which I have raised with the surgery and will continue to pursue.”
In a statement, the practice manager said she was “sorry to hear” of the concerns and encouraged anyone with a complaint about the practice systems to go through the surgery’s official procedure.
But Paul Uglow, a father-of-four, says he has made two complaints in the two years that he has lived in Watton and is still unhappy with the service.
Last year Mr Uglow, who works in the veterinary pharmaceutical business, contacted NHS England with his concerns after his wife and young son could not get appointments despite ongoing health problems.
Mr Uglow, 35, says the surgery has descended in to “absolute chaos” as it struggles to cope with demand for appointments, and believes a second surgery would help solve the problem.
“I don’t know where this will go, but sooner or later some one will get seriously ill. Something will go badly wrong because someone won’t be able to get an appointment,” he said.
“We just want to trust that we are going to be looked after as quickly as possible.”
Practice manager Mary Osborne said: “We are sorry to hear that patients have raised concerns about our practice systems.
“We take all such concerns seriously and would encourage any patient with concerns to raise this issue via our complaints procedure.
“We cannot comment on any individual cases because of our duty of confidentiality.”
Earlier this week a question mark was raised about a new government scheme to extend GP opening hours after it emerged that no practices in Norfolk would benefit from extra funding.
Prime minister David Cameron has announced that 7.5 million people in England will be offered increased access to more than 1,000 GP surgeries with seven day opening and 8am to 8pm appointments.
But officials from the Department of Health and NHS England admitted that services in Norfolk would not be receiving any money from the prime minister’s £50m GP Access Fund.