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Struggles in getting an appointment at Haverhill GP practice prompts criticism from frustrated parent

A Haverhill GP practice says it will continue to review its appointments booking procedure in the face of criticism from a mum who said the current system failed her son.

The Haverhill resident, who asked not be named, said her inability to get an appointment for her 49-year-old son, who has ongoing health issues due to type 2 diabetes, to see a GP at the Christmas Maltings and Clements Practice recently led to him spending a week in hospital.

The woman, who is nearly 90, said she ended up calling the out-of- hours 111 number because her son couldn’t get to see a GP and was subsequently advised to take him to A&E, after which he was admitted to a hospital ward.

Clements Surgery in Haverhill
Clements Surgery in Haverhill

She added that last week she tried three times to make an appointment using the practice’s ‘on the day’ booking system, which requires patients to call at 8am and 1pm each day, the times at which appointments are released.

She said: “I phone up dead on 8am and they (appointments) are all gone.

“I tried this morning and the other day and tried last week and we can’t get through (to get an appointment) no matter what we do.

“If he had got help earlier he might not have been so bad.

“I’m not the only person having this problem. there must be hundreds. It’s not fair on this town.”

Andrew Cutting, service manager for the practice, said: “Whilst it is always disappointing to hear that patients are concerned about the service we offer, it does give us the opportunity to review and improve.

“We encourage anyone with a concern to contact the practice directly so we may investigate fully.

“The Christmas Maltings and Clements Practice operate an ‘on the day’ system for booking appointments.

“Appointments are released at 8am and 1pm with some appointments held back each morning and afternoon for clinically urgent cases.

“We monitor the total number of appointments we have available and the practice compares favourably with other similar practices.

“This system is widely used amongst GP practices because it helps reduce the number of patients who do not attend their appointments.

“The four months prior to the surgery introducing this system, 1,622 patients did not turn up for their appointments.

“Our clinical team will continue to review and monitor this process to ensure those who need to see a clinician are able to do so.”

Following an inspection in January by the Care Quality Commission, the practice was placed in special measures.

One of the concerns raised was that ‘patients were not always able to access care and treatment in a timely way’.

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