Dalkeith patients hanging on the telephone

Cllr Margot Russell outside Dalkeith Medical Practice.
Cllr Margot Russell outside Dalkeith Medical Practice.

A councillor has accused a surgery of not listening to its patients, after raising constituents’ concerns about booking appointments there.

Councillor Margot Russell (Lab), wrote to Dalkeith Medical Practice after her constituents came to her about changes to the booking system made in December, with patients waiting on the phone for long periods.

The surgery has defended the system, saying that it is used elsewhere in Midlothian. It blames the problem on a lack of GPs at the practice, caused by “consecutive governments de-funding and mismanaging primary care”.

Commenting on the surgery’s reply to her letter, Councillor Russell said: “I am disappointed that this once popular surgery is still not listening to its patients.

“People are waiting for half an hour on occasions to get through in the first instance, and then they have to wait in all day as no exact time is given for the call back.

“I am sure the GPs are good at diagnosing illness over the phone and deciding who attends – not many, as I have noted the surgery has been empty on many occasions.

“Since the inception of the NHS, it has been a life saver for working-class people and it is sad to see the system not working for these people.”

Doctor Dean Marshall from Dalkeith Medical Practice said: “The practice is listening to its patients. Our system is no different to the system used in other practices in Midlothian. The issue isn’t about not listening to patients. It’s about providing a safe service to patients.

“Because of consecutive governments de-funding and mismanaging primary care, nobody wants to become a GP.

“We have tried to speak to politicians and managers to no avail. So we are now reaping the consequence of things that have been coming for a long time. General practice at the moment is broken.

“We have got five doctors. But one is off at the moment. And we should have at least two more. We introduced more telephone lines here when we changed the system. But that’s not the problem. It’s the number of doctors.”