BMA tells GPs in Wales to 'sort' appointments system

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Patient waiting in GP surgery
Image caption,
Patients should be given at the least the offer of an appointment with one call say the BMA

GPs in Wales have been urged to fix appointment systems, which are causing "widescale problems to doctors and patients".

The British Medical Association's GP committee, GPC Wales, says patients should not have to ring repeatedly because no on-day appointments are available.

It wants an overhaul so GP appointments can be sorted out "in one call".

The Welsh Assembly Government welcomed the comments.

Dr David Bailey, chairman of GPC Wales, has written to every practice in Wales.

He said: "One of the principal complaints from both the public and politicians to GPC Wales is the continued policy in some GP practices in Wales to open appointments on the day and insist that patients phone in the morning to book and then tell them to phone back the following day once all the appointments are gone.

Dr Bailey said this appeared to be "a legacy of the discredited advanced access programme" and could lead to patients having to phone repeatedly.

"In the opinion of GPC Wales, this is no longer acceptable practice in 2010 and we would like to ask all Welsh practices to support a policy of 'sort it in one call' for patients ringing for appointments."

Dr Bailey added: "This refers to requests for appointments only as this is an activity invariably completed at the reception desk.

"Patients should be able to ring off with an appointment or instruction on a time to attend for urgent consultation or at least having been given the offer of an appointment in every case.

"We feel that making this process as painless as possible for patients will enhance the standing of general practice, improve patient perceptions of the service being provided and dramatically reduce complaints at a stroke."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "It is important that patients have the opportunity to book appointments in advance and we therefore welcome the comments from Dr Bailey.

"We are working with GPC Wales to continue to improve access to GP services."

Funding was announced in January for My Health Online which patients in Wales will be able to use to do things such as book a GP appointment or order repeat prescriptions.

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