Kent’s GP’s office called 286 times by her daughter to make an urgent appointment for an 84-year-old mother
A woman called a GP 286 times in a desperate attempt to book an urgent appointment for her 84-year-old mother.
Elaine Harrad says she called her local practice on behalf of her mother Barbara Shonk who was concerned about a suspected eye infection.
She called Heron Medical Practice in Herne Bay, Kent, as soon as it opened and with a full line in front of her, but her call was dropped.
Ms Harrad then spent 45 minutes ringing for surgery before finally succeeding on her 286th attempt.
The catering manager then requested a callback after finding herself in line 30th to speak to a receptionist.
When she was called back 40 minutes later, there was no more appointment with the GP.
Elaine Harrad (pictured left) says she called her local GP office 286 times on behalf of her mother Barbara Shonk (pictured center) who was concerned about a suspected eye infection
She was offered a phone consultation for her mother, but felt Ms Shonk’s eye needed to be seen in person by a doctor.
Ms Shonk was taken to Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay by her daughter, where she was seen immediately and given antibiotics.
Her daughter said the huge increase in demand after the pandemic was impacting patient care, especially for the elderly and vulnerable.
She said, âMy mom and dad are both 84 and I know for a fact that if they had to go through this system they wouldn’t care.
âI’m lucky I have a smart phone and I just hit ‘redial’.
âThey would listen to everything and hang up the phone.
âMy mom just couldn’t have got a date, and it was something she needed to see someone about.
âThey got me, so I keep trying and trying.
âBut a lot of older people don’t have that, and I’m sure a lot of them just go through the system and get missed.
âAnd that’s not good. If there is no one there to fight, they will simply go under the radar.
She said: âA lot of older people just won’t care.
âIt’s also not correct to just tell people to go online because a lot of people don’t know how to use or don’t have access to computers.
âWhile during the pandemic the focus was on caring for our elderly and vulnerable, it now appears to be the opposite.
âWe seem to forget our vulnerable.
“Six months from now there will be a large number of older people with undiagnosed illnesses and then the NHS will be overwhelmed again.”
Heron Medical Practice says it is experiencing “a huge increase in demand” as it faces a backlog caused by the Covid pandemic. The practice, which includes St Anne’s surgery (pictured), Beltinge and Reculver surgery and Hersden surgery, invites those who can to make an appointment online.
Heron Medical Practice says it is experiencing “a huge increase in demand” as it faces a backlog caused by the Covid pandemic.
The practice – which includes St Anne’s surgery, Beltinge and Reculver surgery and Hersden surgery – is calling on those who can to make an appointment online.
This will free up phone lines for elderly patients and those who do not have access to a computer.
A spokesperson said: “We are sorry to learn of the difficulties this patient faced and are happy that she was able to achieve a positive resolution at Queen Victoria Hospital.
âGeneral medicine across the country is facing a huge increase in demand.
“The NHS Kent and Medway clinical commissioning group is working with practices and partners to address pressures caused by the backlog of patients who were not seen during the pandemic.”
Regarding the meeting request, Sales Director Helen Sutton said: âI have never seen anything like it and have worked in the NHS for almost 22 years.
âBefore Covid, we were always busy in the morning. From 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the phone didn’t stop, but in the afternoon it was just a strange call and it would be quieter.
âNow it’s full until 6:30 pm. It never, ever relaxes.
âWe can’t enchant more appointments, so for the rest of the day, the front desk staff have no appointments to make.
“It is really, really difficult and I am sorry for everyone – the patients and the staff.”
Regarding the appointment request, Heron Medical Practice business manager Helen Sutton (pictured) said that before Covid the surgery was always busy in the morning from around 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. but now it is ” full “until 6.30 p.m. and” never sags’
She says other means are available for those with access to computers, such as the online electronic consultation form introduced during the pandemic.
A list of email contacts is available on the Heron Medical Practice Facebook page.
There is also a 24-hour automated phone system that allows patients to book after-hours appointments, and the office is steadily increasing its face-to-face appointments.
Dr Simon Dunn added: “We recognize that our phone lines are very busy and understand the frustrations that not being able to reach on the phone causes.
âWe are working hard to be able to answer phone calls as quickly as possible.
âWhile we are not oversubscribed, we have many more patients contacting us at any given time than they would have been before the pandemic.
âPatients can help by going online to use our online triage system if they can, freeing up phone lines for those who cannot use the Internet. “