Yesterday, Lucy Allan MP met with Minister of State for Health, Jo Churchill MP, to discuss in detail the issues that residents have been facing when trying to get an appointment with their GP.
Also attended by senior members of the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the meeting was a good opportunity for Lucy to relay residents' complaints directly to decision makers in the NHS and the Department for Health and Social Care.
In particular, Lucy raised the difficulty of securing an in-person consultation in Telford, in addition to the poor customer service provided by GP surgeries - especially Teldoc. Often, GP telephone systems are unable to cope with demand, resulting in no access to a consultation for some patients and very delayed access for others. In the very worst cases, patients able only to have a telephone consultation have been misdiagnosed.
Lucy has visited Telford surgeries in person to find that many residents were unable even to walk in and book an appointment or to seek a repeat prescription. The failure of basic GP provision in Telford is forcing residents to attend A&E as there is no other way of accessing care, exacerbating the pressure on the Princess Royal and other hospitals across Shropshire. Some patients have been forced to access private provision or use the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.
The CCG has acknowledge the difficulties patients are facing and is looking into how they can be alleviated. Lucy has been consistent in her position that GPs must provide the service they are contractually obliged to.
The Minister listened carefully to the concerns raised and will take them back to the Department for Health and Social care to see what can be done to ensure maximum access for Telford residents to their GP - a service they are entitled to and pay for through national insurance contributions.
Lucy will continue to post regular updates about this issue.