‘They obviously haven’t got the capacity’ - Mother’s fears after doctor’s surgery struggles to meet growing demands

A worried mother whose disabled son requires 24-hour a day care believes the most vulnerable members of the community are suffering due to the falling level of service provided by her nearby medical centre.

Georgina Sait, from Worlingham, has used Beccles Medical Centre since moving to the area 14 years ago and believes it is now harder than ever to see a doctor.

Her 19-year-old son Gabriel suffers from autism, epilepsy and diabetes and requires around-the-clock care.

Mrs Sait said: “This isn’t a complaint against the doctors - when you can get through they are brilliant.

“It’s been particularly bad since they changed the system, you can only dial in to request an appointment or a call back between eight and 11.

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“They obviously haven’t got the capacity to answer the calls – a lot of times it says ‘number not available, try again later’.”

Last year the medical centre was hit with a GP shortage as four GPs retired and four resigned in the space of six months.

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It is currently staffed by three full-time and five part-time GPs, one emergency care practitioner and six advanced nurse practitioners.

But Mrs Sait feels the surgery is still struggling with staffing issues – this in turn leads to difficulty in getting an appointment.

She said: “They have had major difficulties in recruiting and keeping doctors at the medical centre.

“I think it’s all about funding – they don’t have the staff to meet the needs.”

“There was one occasion when I picked up my son’s medication and the dosage had changed.

“I wanted to talk to the doctor to check so I tried to get through on the phone but couldn’t.

“I had to wait until his carers came at 11 and went straight down there; they said it would have to be a consultation which I had missed the time for.

“They said I would have to wait unto the next day. He has to take these tablets and I wasn’t sure if he was getting the safe amount.”

“It really worries me, they have obviously done this to ration the service but it seems to be hitting the most vulnerable – it seems counter-productive.”

Beccles Medical Centre

The struggle to keep up with demand is a problem faced by surgeries across the UK, according to the medical centre.

Dr Tim Morton, from Beccles Medical Centre said: “Like every other GP practice in the country, we are facing increasing demands for our services.

“As such, we need to make sure every patient sees the most appropriate professional to meet their needs so that they can receive the right treatment as quickly as possible. This is not always a doctor – in some cases, it may be better for the patient to see an advanced nurse practitioner, physiotherapist, emergency care practitioner or a pharmacist.

“Our appointments system has been in place for around 18 months and sees care navigators, who have been specially-trained by our GPs, book people in for GP or nurse appointments, arrange a GP call back or telephone consultation or direct them to a more appropriate source of help. We unfortunately cannot guarantee we will call back at a specific time due to clinical demands.”

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