Concerned dad spends four hours waiting in vain on the phone to get a GP appointment for his young daughter in Milton Keynes

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He’s been trying to book it for weeks

A city GP practice has apologised to patients who find it impossible to get through to them on the phone.

The problem came to light after a concerned dad contacted the Citizen describing his battle to book an appointment for his young daughter to have her flu vaccine at Brooklands Health Centre.

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Tariq Arafa received letters from the NHS back in September, inviting them to book in his three-year-old.

The health centre in Milton Keynes has apologised to patients finding it difficult to contact them by phoneThe health centre in Milton Keynes has apologised to patients finding it difficult to contact them by phone
The health centre in Milton Keynes has apologised to patients finding it difficult to contact them by phone

The NHS is strongly urging all youngsters to have the vaccine, normally delivered by a simple nasal spray, to cut down the potentially dangerous spread of seasonal influenza.

Tariq called Brookland Surgery, only to be told the vaccines were not available and his daughter would be put on a waiting list. They promised to contact him when stocks arrived.

"They never called back,” he said. “We kept trying to call them, always having to wait at least an hour to get through.”

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The final straw came last week when Tariq called the health centre – and waited on the phone for four hours with no answer.

He has now contacted MP Ben Everitt, saying: “It is with real dismay that I have to write to you about the perilous state of GP provision in Brooklands.”

It’s the second time the family has enlisted the MP’s help in getting GP appointments.

Tariq told Mr Everitt: “I have no idea why such appointments cannot be made without me having to contact you, particularly as the surgery was taken over by a new provider on September 1 and residents were promised improved service levels. In reality, they have substantially deteriorated.”

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He added: “I recognise the NHS is under pressure but the GP service here is actually now unusable. My further concern is that with further housebuilding taking place in the area, these pressures will only get worse… I fear it will take young children getting seriously ill or worse before anything is done and urge you to seek drastic remedial action is taken to protect the health of the MK East community.”

Until September Brooklands Health Centre was part of the Milton Keynes Group Practice, which runs Kingfisher Surgery in Newport Pagnell. It was then taken over by One Medicare, which also runs Whitehouse Surgery.

A spokesperson for One Medicare said: “We are aware that patients have been experiencing issues with our phone lines which is causing some delay in patients getting through to the practice. We are working closely with our provider to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.

“Since we took over the provision of primary care services at Brooklands Health Centre in September, it has been our priority to address the ongoing issues and provide the best possible solution for patients who need to access important services.

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“While we work closely with the phone line providers to urgently resolve this, we have also introduced our new online PATCHS system for patients as an alternative method of getting in touch with the practice. Further to this, we have a dedicated team of reception staff on hand during opening hours and welcome patients who prefer to come into the Centre to speak with our team directly.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank everyone for their patience whilst we resolve this."