‘Book on the day’ GP appointments, good or bad?

During my 22 years living on this big old planet I’ve been registered with four (maybe five) different GP’s (General Practitioners… just in case they’re named something different outside the UK). I grew up on a small, yet busy island in the south of England (it’s really not as fancy as it sounds). I was registered with the same GP for pretty much most of my life until I moved away for university up to good old Birmingham. When you start at university you have lots of different stuff thrown at ya almost instantly when you step foot on academic ground. Which is why my mum insisted I registered with a Doctors surgery as soon as humanly possible (which actually led to me somehow registering for my University health service in the middle of the sports centre on an odd, busy Saturday morning). I’ve been registered with that GP since 2011 (apart from one summer where I needed to re-register back home).

Personally I think student health services, such as the one at my university, are fantastic. Mine was incredibly accessible and it was quite fortunate that I felt at ease disclosing information and discussing stuff with the team there. (Usually for me I find anything to do with medical stuff incredibly nerve-wracking, especially GPs for some reason). Back at home (Essex) things are done differently in terms of localised medical services. Where I live (Canvey Island) we have one medical centre where all the Doctor’s surgeries are based (we did away we individual buildings about five or six years ago). It also means that you can happily book in advance for an appointment and you’re able to schedule your appointment around your life.

Recently I’ve  registered at a new surgery in Birmingham (I’m no longer a student and I’ve moved house). It’s taken me a few months to re-register because quite frankly I didn’t need to access a GP. I have a Community Mental Health Team, but it was agreed that I’d be able to stay with my current team although I’ve changed address. Though in response to my recent “let’s get a head injury and collapse every now and then” activities I felt it maybe ever so slightly important to go and see a doctor. I registered last week, and had a slightly uncomfortable meeting with my new GP , though I must admit this may partly be due to my apparent inability to feel comfortable during any medical appointments (though I think that’s fairly acceptable?)

Last week I was sent to hospital for some neurology-based tests, which in itself was a pretty anxious, intimidating event. I was advised that the hospital would write to my GP (which they have) and further contact/enquiry would be made through a referral to a neurology team. I contacted my GP a few days ago and they’d informed me that they had received the letter but unfortunately they didn’t have any ‘book in advance’ appointments left for December and that I’d have to keep contacting my GP each day to see if they have any free appointments. Three days later and I’ve still not been able to book an appointment, and I’ve been advised to ‘try again tomorrow’. Tomorrow is Friday, which means if I don’t get an appointment tomorrow I’ll have to wait until Monday and even then I’m not guaranteed an appointment. Christmas is next Friday so of course the surgery is closed several days next week (and I’ve got mental health appointments with a different team anyway so I wouldn’t be able to actually attend any appointments).

Now, don’t get me wrong… I think having ‘book on the day’ appointments is very useful, the idea is fantastic – if someone has an emergency then they can contact their GP and get see right away… right? But considering I was rushed to A&E last week and now I cannot even book an appointment with my GP just so I can be referred to a neurology team is incredibly frustrating (not to mention the different thoughts in relation to my health that are continuously running through my mind).

I don’t usually like to ‘rant’ via this blog, but needless to say I’m pretty annoyed (and a little scared…) I miss the good old days of having to book a week in advance for an appointment, because then at least that way you know you are guaranteed an appointment. It also means I’ve had to work from home almost every morning this week in case I do somehow manage to get an appointment… how incredibly frustrating! (Someone pass me the mince pies).

I need me one of these:

Meaningful Editorial Illustrations by John Holcroft


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