/ Health

Is it too hard to get an appointment with your GP?

Woman sick on phone

Have you ever been stuck on the phone trying to get an appointment at your doctor’s surgery, just to find that there aren’t any available? You’re not alone – millions of us have trouble booking a slot with our GP.

In a survey of two million people during 2010, a fifth said they found it difficult to make an appointment with their GP over the phone.

The GP Patient Survey also discovered that one in five people struggled to see their doctor ‘fairly quickly’, with the main cause being a lack of available appointments.

Due to NHS targets, you should be able to get an appointment with a GP or nurse within 48 hours. But, as we all know, we’re often not that lucky.

Our 2009 investigation found that 39% of people in the UK (or around 13 million people) had to make several attempts to get through to their surgery by phone. Thankfully, the GP Patient Survey suggests that this percentage has dropped.

Knowing when to call

Most of the time, it’s about knowing when to call. I’ve always made sure to ring early in the morning to ensure a consultation on the same day. However, this also creates problems.

Almost half of the population is required to call their surgery first thing to get a slot. This influx makes it more difficult for people to get through, as they’re competing with fellow patients for a free phone line.

For instance, my friend battled to get through to her local practice last week. When she finally did, she was told that there were no appointments for the next three weeks! Of course, like most working people, she was after an evening appointment, which are a tad difficult to get hold of. Yet these are the slots that many of us want – in our 2009 survey, half of the 2,400 people we asked wanted appointments outside of 9am to 5pm.

Is the system flawed?

So do you think there is an inherent problem with the way GP appointments have to be made in the UK? Jo Webber, deputy policy director of the NHS Confederation, emphasises the importance of being able to use your GP practice:

‘Patients need to be able to access their GP easily otherwise there is a serious risk they will add to the already considerable pressures faced by A&E departments and 999 services.’

How many times have you tried unsuccessfully to get through to your GP, or been told you can only phone to book appointments at certain times of day?


In my area the Doctors did a paydeal with [name removed] ,approx 20 years ago, under Thatcher , so they now hold the purse strings .It used to be the top Specialists in hospitals. Yes those who maladministrate social services have now access to our records which they shortened to their corporate bias, so my Online Record is libellous ignoring my disability & those doing the referring are a call centre. Any Doctor who can say to you before take you on after raised issue re: GMC they were going to rotate yearly, take no account of history further referrals or hospital medication after 4 hospital depts cut me off . GPs had said not taught about condition that required antibiotics.Now they regard them as ‘poison “their words.Four surgeries did this.
They are ignoring the fact that same behaviour resulted in cardiac arrest 6 yrs ago never having been referred( weekly follow up visits)
The GPs do as they are directed by their contracts as do hospital Doctors too. Many no longer take the hippocratic oath because if did would not be able to work under such conditions so many are not trained here.They know no different.

David says:
15 April 2013

Yes, I agree. I can’t see anybody and of course my illness doesn’t exist, bipolar ll, but I’m sure it will exist when the rail line is closed down thus making everybody late home because the Transport Police have to remove a body from the tracks, south of Preston. Peace to you all and god bless us Jimbo, if he exists.


ye s i exist i have been at hospital all day having a camera looking at my bowels got to go back tomorrow to have a biopsy sorry i am late answering you but the next 3 days i have to go to differant hospitals i thought they could do it all at one but no just let us suffer at our expence


whent for the biopsy only to be told after 4 hours that they did not want to do it because of my heart condition another wasted day and god knows how much it cost me i could have told them all this at the start do they never read your mediclal history apperantly not had a ct scan this afternoon but no answers again how are we suppose to trust them jimbo

PEGGY says:
14 May 2013

I hardly go to the doctors the most is about three / four times a year only when I feel really ill and can never get appointment have to wait up to a week if not more and the emergency doctor is just a talk over the phone cant go in what is the point – i had no voice /sore thoat and high temperture he call me back and explained how i was feeling couild hardly talk he ask – whats the problem ? tell him in a very sore thoat and no voice he says and what do you want me to do? you can be half dead and cant get in to see the doctor and when yuou do they in such a rush to get you out the door they not bothered how sick you are??? we pay our money each money but we dont get service we not getting it for free – taking it off my pay each month – SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE SERVICES WE GET FOR OUR MONEY


i dont know about else but does anyone have problems with getting there prescriptions today i had to phone my docs because there was 3 items left off my repeat prescription only to be told by the snoty receptions that SHE couldnt give them to me since when do they get a degree in being a doctor 1 of the items is to help my sugar level low because i have type 2 diabetes 1 is for controlling my prostate as they think i have prostate cancer and the last 1 is to stop wetting myself this happens every month and i am sick of it i take 32 tablets a day and been going to the same chemist for 3 years who do you complain about it??? oh the doc have know blocked my phone so i cant ring them


My GP surgery will deliver prescriptions to several local pharmacies, so that they are ready to collect within 48 hours of ordering online or by phone. I have been told that some pharmacies will deliver free-of-charge to people who would have difficulty in collecting their medicines. I’m not in that category but you might be.

Best of luck in getting this sorted out.


Thanks for your quick reply i eventuly got through to someone who was over 18 and got it all sorted is it any wonder they dont keep jobs cheers jimbo


orderd my prescription on 21-6-13 went down just for cost 5