Ferry worker had to make 200 phone calls to get a doctor’s appointment, sparking fears Britain’s deepening GP shortage will lead to patient deaths
- Patients needing urgent medical appointments face 50-mile round trip to A&E
- One man phoned 200 times for appointment at surgery run by scandal-hit trust
- Last week the Mail revealed that fewer than a third of GPs are working full-time
A patient was forced to call his GP surgery 200 times for an appointment in a stark illustration of Britain’s GP crisis.
Ferry worker Gareth Humphreys told how he had been forced to battle for an appointment at two surgeries which have been taken over by a scandal-hit health trust.
He called for action after two out of three surgeries in Holyhead, Anglesey, north Wales, were left without permanent GPs.
Mr Humphreys said he called Cambria, one of the two surgeries taken over by Betsi Cadwaladr, 200 times on November 12 trying to get an appointment. A stock image is used above [File photo]
Locum doctors have instead been drafted in, along with a GP from another area, to cover two days a week.
Last week the Daily Mail revealed that fewer than a third of GPs are working full-time in surgeries amid a crisis in appointment availability.
Just 27.5 per cent of family doctors are practising full-time and this number has plummeted in the past four years.
Instead, GPs are increasingly pursuing ‘portfolio’ careers, where they mix their surgery time with private work, teaching or running a business.
The accident and emergency department of Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
In Holyhead, the two affected surgeries have been taken over by the Welsh NHS’s troubled Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which is in special measures and being run by the Labour-controlled Welsh government.
A fortnight ago it was revealed Betsi Cadwaladr was paying management consultant Phillip Burns £2,000 a day to advise on how to make cuts to its budget, which has a £42million deficit.
The terms of his contract allow him to spend one day a week working from his luxury flat in Marbella, Spain.
Desperate patients needing urgent medical appointments have been left facing a 50-mile round trip to the nearest A&E unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in Bangor.
Mr Humphreys said he called Cambria, one of the two surgeries taken over by Betsi Cadwaladr, 200 times on November 12 trying to get an appointment.
He was among those attending a meeting between the health board and local councillors in Holyhead to complain.
Desperate patients needing urgent medical appointments have been left facing a 50-mile round trip to the nearest A&E unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in Bangor
Mr Humphreys said afterwards: ‘The person in charge of Cambria and Longford surgeries is Keith Amos. I spoke to him and said I would be escalating things.’
Another woman rang her surgery 147 times until she got a reply – only to be told there was no appointment and she would have to visit A&E, the meeting heard.
Shaun Redmond, an independent county councillor, said: ‘We need to put full weight on Betsi Cadwaladr and [the Welsh government in] Cardiff to get an urgent solution or else someone will die as a result.’
Mr Redmond branded Mr Burns’s pay to cut costs a ‘waste of money’, adding: ‘It’s made no difference here apart from taking money away from us.’
Wyn Thomas, an assistant director at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, told the meeting it was trying to recruit GPs but added: ‘It’s probably unrealistic to think we can recruit the number of GPs we would like.’ GP recruitment was a national problem, he warned.
Health bosses said they were trying to extend the opening hours at the minor injuries unit at Ysbyty Penrhos Stanley, a local hospital in Holyhead.
Mr Thomas added that locums were also being used by the board. He said: ‘Most days we have got GPs between the practices.’