"I’ve given up, I really have" Bedford councillor shares frustrations over GP access and misdiagnosis

People have given up trying to get an appointment, a Bedford councillor has said

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 4:31 pm

A Bedford councillor has told how she missed out on getting treatment because of a misdiagnosis and has ‘given up’ getting in touch with her GP – and said she’s not the only one.

Councillor Wendy Rider (LibDems, Brickhill Ward) shared her experiences with the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting this week, following an update on the future of general practice and primary care in the borough.

“One shouldn’t use personal experience, but often it is the only way we can get it across,” she said.

Doctor working in office.

Councillor Rider spoke about being unable to get through to her doctor to discuss test results.

She explained: “I tried using the system – you can get your results if you press a certain button [on your phone]. It was in the afternoon, and it said ‘we’ve reached our maximal calls for today. Please call back tomorrow’.

“So the next day I rang at nine o’clock, and what was the message? ‘We’ve reached our maximal calls. Please call back tomorrow’.

Councillor Rider said when she got through to the receptionist she was told that the results were clear and no further action was required.

“I said, no there is further action, the doctor said I’ve got to be referred on to cardiology. Since then, I don’t know, I’ve given up.

“You know, if I suffer a heart attack or something, I’ve given up, I really have, and I think a lot of people are [giving up].

“Also, I was wrongly diagnosed,” councillor Rider added, referring to another health issue, “because the doctor asked me to send a photo of something and they said it was an allergy.

“It turned out I had shingles and I missed that magic time of getting the medication.

“Someone needs to understand what the public are going through, and they’re worried. They’re worried because they can’t get through to a doctor.”

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The update was presented to the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Monday (July, 11) by BLMK CCG’s (now the NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board) head of primary care development and transformation, David Picking.

The report said its focus is on improving the patient experience when accessing primary care.

This includes a communication strategy to explain to residents how general practice is changing.

Part of the changes is to streamline access to urgent, same-day care and advice from an expanded multi-disciplinary team, using data and digital technology.

This, the report said, will enable patients to quickly find the right support to meet their needs

David Picking said: “For a generation, GP practices have been [just] GPs, and that has changed.

“This has changed at pace over the last couple of years because there aren’t enough [GPs] to go round to deal with the demand.

“So expanding the general practice team is one of the answers to the challenge.

“Getting that message across to our population is another challenge,” he said.