Patient ended up in hospital during seven-week wait to see GP

The incident was shared last week as a health and social care committee discussed a 'crisis in primary care'.

Patient ended up in hospital during seven-week wait to see GP iStock
Perth and Kinross: The incident was shared last week as a health and social care committee discussed a 'crisis in primary care'.

A committee has heard a Perth and Kinross resident – waiting seven weeks to see their GP – collapsed and ended up in hospital.

The incident was shared last week as a health and social care committee discussed a “crisis in primary care”.

The audit and performance committee of the Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board heard a resident was given a telephone GP appointment seven weeks away as the next available appointment.

Sandra Auld, public partner service user, took the opportunity at the December 13 meeting to share the experiences of two local residents.

Her comments came following a presentation providing a locality update on Perth City where officers referred to the “crisis in primary care” and “increasing demand”.

Ms Auld told the committee of a resident who was looking for a telephone GP appointment to follow up a “fairly routine issue”.

Ms Auld told the committee while it “wasn’t an emergency there was a degree of urgency attached to it”.

She said: “The call was made on November 17.”

After a brief pause and raise of the eyebrows, she added: “The first available appointment wasn’t until January 6 – which is an excessive length of time.

“And in the meantime the person suffered a collapse, an emergency admission to hospital, an ambulance transfer and an overnight stay.”

Ms Auld said this was an example of “the knock-on impact of the lack of capacity within GP practice can sometimes have”.

Another incident involved a pregnant resident who tragically lost their baby.

Ms Auld said: “A service user booking an appointment with the early maternity services then unfortunately suffered a miscarriage which was dealt with by their GP.

“That information was not passed through to the community midwife services who three weeks later got back in touch to make the first booking appointment – a real breakdown of communication.

“And it transpires there really isn’t a system in place there to link up the two services there. What was being relied on was the GP actually physically getting in touch so, again, further strain on the very much overworked service.”

The British Medical Association said it could not and would not comment on individual cases.

However, Dr Andrew Buist – chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee – said GPs across Scotland are under “immense pressure” due to a shortage of GPs.

The Blairgowrie GP said: “GPs across Scotland are under immense pressure, with demand from patients hugely outstripping capacity. Indeed, a recent survey carried out by BMA Scotland found that 42% of GP practices that responded feel their capacity is substantially below what is required to meet demand for care.

“While this is in part of course due to increased demand – it is also clearly because we simply don’t have enough GPs.

“The need for more GPs is emphasised even further in our survey, which showed 28% – more than one in four – GP practices currently have vacancies for one or more GPs.

“General practice is currently carrying out an estimated 500,000 appointments per week – and that is not enough to meet demand. That number of appointments is straining our understrength workforce capacity who simply cannot sustain this indefinitely.”

By local democracy reporter Kathryn Anderson