Patients ‘frustrated by lack of access to doctors’

FERMANAGH patients are becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to access their GPs as easily as before the pandemic, however one local doctor has claimed patients now have greater access than ever.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, GP surgeries have stopped all ‘walk in’ services in a bid to reduce footfall at surgeries. Instead patients must ring up, undergo ‘telephone tirage’, and are then either treated over the phone or asked to see come in to see their GP face to face.
This has been a point of frustration for many, who feel they don’t have access to their doctor at the moment. At the October meeting of the Council, Cllr Sheamus Greene said he was inundated with calls from constituents on the issue.
“Locally in my area I get at least one or two calls a day about people trying to get access to services,” he said. “Between waiting an hour or more on phones not being answered, there is just something wrong where people can’t get in to see their GP.”
Cllr Mary Garrity agreed, stating it was “a common feature affecting us all as elected representatives” but said in GPs’ defence, “they’re stretched too.”
A local GP herself, Cllr Josephine Deehan said GPs were currently working harder than ever, adding her fellow councillors may be surprised to hear “the general public have better access than ever before to their general practitioner.”
Stating she believed the fact GPs had locked down early had helped keep the local infection rate low.
“Our main objective was then and remains now to reduce footfall to healthcare settings,” said Cllr Deehan, adding GPs were already stretched and “at breaking point” even before the pandemic.
“Frankly, we are doing everything that is possible to do to meet need out there. We wish there were more of us, we wish there were more hours in the day, but we are where we are,” she said.
“Definitely, face-to-face consultations are limited. There are cases that definitely need to be seen and are being seen.”

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