Give us better access to GPs in Milton Keynes, say patients

Patients are having increasing difficulty in getting appointments to see their GP in Milton Keynes, a meeting heard.

Give us access to GPs, say patients

A doctor's consulting room

A doctor's consulting room

Patients are having increasing difficulty in getting appointments to see their GP in Milton Keynes, a meeting heard.

People from the city and Bedfordshire have taken part in a consultation exercise to see how they would make the NHS better.

And while they praise the health service for the quality of care, they say there is a real problem in getting into the system in the first place.

“Accessing GPs in Milton Keynes is becoming a major problem,” Cllr Robin Bradburn (Lib Dem, Bradwell), told Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The committee’s job is to scrutinise the health service.

“The first hurdle is getting the care in the first place. This issue should be pushed forward.”

Cllr Bradburn said one issue causing concern for people in his patch is parking charges being applied by the landowners of the car park near Wolverton Health Centre, in Gloucester Road. The health centre says the decision is not in their control.

Cllr Alice Jenkins, who was chairing the meeting with Healthwatch and representatives of the Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Integrated Care System, said: “I can’t overemphasise how important access is in Milton Keynes.

Patients across Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes told the Healthwatch survey earlier this year that access to services was the biggest issue. They also want help in understanding their care, including for treatment for cancer and mental health.

Diana Blackmun, the chief executive of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, said they were hearing about problems accessing GP services “all the time”. Healthwatch is a network of watchdogs paid for by the NHS and its work is being fed into the development of local NHS plans.

The Healthwatch report says that solving the issue of being unable to book an appointment with a GP in good time “would help them to manage their health and care, and working people particularly need more flexible access to their GP”.

The report says: “Getting access to services remains a high priority for everyone, with support available 24/7 and not just during working hours for all services. Being unable to book an appointment with a GP in good time was a recurring theme in the survey and focus groups.

“Working people struggle to access care and support and need more flexibility

in the hours services are available, with this lack of early intervention possibly leading to A&E attendance or crisis.”

Jane Meggitt, who directs communications and engagement at the BLMK Integrated Care System, said engagement with patients is a vital part of the process of designing local NHS services.

“This is the start of a conversation that will become integral in the way that we do business,” she said.