A grandmother who waited FOUR MONTHS for a GP appointment was baffled by the clinic's 'ghost town' waiting room.
Carolyn Williams, 55, claims she had waited since January 29 for her physiotherapy appointment and was regularly put on hold for up to an hour.
But she was left despairing after arriving at the Giggs Hill Surgery, in Thames Ditton, Surrey, to find waiting areas totally empty.
The surgery has dozens of one star reviews on the NHS website between them – with the unavailability of appointments being the most common complaint.
Carolyn, from Molesey, Surrey, also tried to book an appointment for a relative at partner surgery Glenlyn Medical Centre – and said she had to wait three weeks and was routinely placed on hold again.
She said: "Quite honestly I despair of our entire NHS.
"When you need an appointment you just can't get in. [The two surgeries] are near to useless now.
"The appointment I had yesterday was for myself for physiotherapy, which ironically I have been waiting since 29th January, and yet there was nobody else there, nobody else waiting, and there was a big room with four bays and only one being used.
"To be honest I thought 'it's like a ghost town. What's going on?'
"It's not acceptable. You do your best not to go to A&E.
"It was very weird and you just think 'where is everyone?'"
Carolyn had been in her appointment for 40 minutes when she left to find the waiting rooms still empty, with no-one in sight.
Yet she claims she is routinely told there are no doctor's appointments for three weeks whenever she tries to book one for herself or her relative.
Carolyn said: "I just don't get it. It was still empty when I came out of my appointment.
"The small blue area is a physiotherapy waiting area where I barely got to sit down before I was called, yet there was no other patients and I've had to wait four months.
"The very large area [in pictures] is where they have the emergency on call doctors and nurse specialists. I never saw anybody coming in or going out.
"Yet there are other people constantly complaining about trying to get an appointment.
"My [relative's] appointment was last Thursday and it was almost the same."
Carolyn claims she had been trying from the end of April to get an appointment for a relative.
She was reportedly told to call back at 8.30am the following morning and 1.30pm later in the day to secure appointments, but claims she was always told none were available.
Carolyn said: "You call [back] at 8.30am and it's engaged. Then you call back at 8.45am and everything's gone.
"I tried again the next day, nothing available. And I called the next day, same again.
"It was every time I rang. When you're at work and they say call at 1.30pm, you might be busy.
"I actually took a screenshot on one occasion where I'd sat on the phone for 56 minutes on hold. And I've done that a few times.
"The worst one is if you phone about 5pm they'll keep you on hold until 6pm, then it cuts off because that's their finishing time."
In pure desperation, Carolyn claims she was forced to threaten to leave two of her relatives in the surgery waiting room until they were seen – at which point she claims the receptionist found an appointment for the next day.
Carolyn said: "They've got no compassion. You have to get through the secretary to get through to the GP.
"I actually turned round to the reception when I phoned on the last occasion and I said 'I've actually had enough. I've been ringing you for three weeks on and off trying to get an appointment for a relative'.
"What upset me was that I went in, we saw the doctor and she had a go at me asking why we had left it so long."
A spokesperson for NHS Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group said: "It is really important that people have access to high quality care locally and can make an appointment with their GP when they need to, so we are sorry to hear about Ms Williams' experiences.
"If she wishes to contact us or the surgery, we will be very happy to discuss this matter further.
"We have recently invested in extended access to make it easier for people to see a GP at a time that is more convenient for them. It has seen Surrey Heartlands practices make available hundreds of extra appointments every week for people living in Surrey Downs, Guildford and Waverley and North West Surrey.
"As well as being able to visit their own practice, patients can book into evening and weekend consultations at new 'hub' clinics held by local GP federations – made up of local GP practices.
"In addition outside of surgery hours people always have access to the new integrated urgent care service, which includes NHS111, a clinical assessment service and GP out-of-hours service. It is designed to make it easier to signpost patients who call NHS 111 for health advice to the most appropriate local service."
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