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Reduced GP contact puts patients on critical list

CONSIDERING the difficulties being experienced in our A&E departments, I would be grateful for any advice or guidance Health Minister Edwin Poots or any of his minions could provide regarding the provision of healthcare.

Consider the following scenario. A patient rings their GP surgery requesting an appointment and is told they can be allocated one in two to three weeks' time, unless the matter is urgent. Confirming to the receptionist that they consider the matter is, indeed, urgent, they are advised their request will be relayed to the doctor, who will assess the situation after returning the patient's call.

If, after the telephone consultation is completed and the matter is indeed regarded as urgent, the patient is advised to proceed to the nearest A&E department. However, a helpful referral letter will be available from the surgery, which they can collect on the way past.

Inevitably, human nature being what it is, the vast majority of 'urgent' cases turn out to be nothing of the sort. However, these diagnoses all take up valuable time in the already busy A&E department – time which could have been saved if the patient had been seen by their GP in the first place. It is perhaps no surprise that A&E units are struggling to cope since the requirement for GPs to see any patient within 48 hours was abolished. If this is, indeed, Transforming Your Care, the patient is now on the critical list due to the lack of it.

DR HACKENBUSH

Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

Belfast Telegraph

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