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Is general practice losing its way?

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7273.1421 (Published 02 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1421
  1. Oliver Samuel, retired general practitioner
  1. London

    Iwas feeling unwell and decided to go and see my doctor. I telephoned the practice to make an appointment but was told that his next available slot was in two weeks' time. The receptionist was very sympathetic and told me that I could see one of the other doctors, but the first time one of them was available was seven days ahead. I said that I wanted to see a doctor straightaway so the receptionist asked me what the matter was. I told her that I hoped that the doctor would be able to tell me that, but only after I had been seen. “No, really,” she said, “I need to know to decide if you are an emergency.” She then added that emergency appointments were only for problems that could not wait and that only one doctor was available that evening to see the “extras.” My friends tell me that many general practices are run with similar waiting times.

    Continuous care by …

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