‘Give GPs resources for better service’


A Lisburn woman who says she has sometimes had to go days without prescription medication for a chronic condition is calling for GPs to be given the resources they need to “to provide a better service to their patients”.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she routinely found it almost impossible to contact her GP practice, one of a number operating out of Lisburn Health Centre, though rather than blame the doctors she blamed the “powers that be” responsible for failing, she said, to provide surgeries with adequate communications resources.

However, the Health and Social Care Board said it had offered funding to enable GP practices to improve their telephone communication system and to date applications had not been rejected.

The “frustrated and angry Lisburn patient” said she and other members of her immediate family relied on prescription medications for a range of individual conditions and had done so for up to nine years.

Though there was a 24-hour prescriptions line, she said, it was offset by the amount of time that had to be allowed for dispensing, and past that, she repeatedly experienced major difficulty in making contact.

“I’ve repeatedly rang 20 times or more and not got through to the doctors,” she said. “It’s about time our GPs were granted the means to provide a better service to their patients; they have said what they need for a long time now and it’s not forthcoming.

“Why should they take grief for something beyond their control and why should we as patients have to take this either?”

A H&SCB spokesperson said : “The Health and Social Care Board contracts with GP Practices to provide General Medical Services through the General Medical Services Contract (NI). GP Practices are independent, self-governing organisations, responsible for the delivery of services to their patients and for the day to day management of their individual Practices.

“Each General Practice is responsible for ensuring that they are practising from premises which are suitable for the delivery of general medical services to meet the reasonable needs of their patients.The Health and Social Care Board has offered funding to enable practices to improve their telephone communication system specifically to meet the needs of their patients. To date applications from practices for upgrading telephone systems have not been rejected.

If a patient has a complaint with an individual Practice, they should raise it directly with that Practice in the first instance. All GP Practices must comply with ‘Complaints in Health and Social Care’ which became effective in April 2009, and are required to have a practice based complaints procedure.

“Alternatively, if an individual does not want to deal with the practice concerned directly they can contact the Health and Social Care Board’s Complaints team on 028 9536 3893 for help in the resolution of the complaint.”