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March woman who has been left in ‘agony’ fails to get through to GP service despite numerous calls

A Fenland woman who claims she was left in agony after a doctor’s surgery failed to give her an appointment has taken her complaint to the top.

Jeanette Shermer, from March, has complained about the Riverside Practice to both local MP Steve Barclay (a former Health Secretary) and the current Health Secretary Victoria Atkins.

Mrs Shermer said she tried to get an appointment for some strong painkillers on Thursday, February 8 and was told by the receptionist a pharmacist would be in touch.

Riverside Practice in March.
Riverside Practice in March.

She received a call back around 11am that same day from the pharmacist at Boots in Broad Street.

“I was expecting to hear from the practice pharmacist, so it was a surprise to get a call from the one at Boots,” said Mrs Shermer.

“Unfortunately because I have a serious heart problem and I’m on a lot of other medication the pharmacist told me he couldn’t prescribe the painkillers I needed for the pain in my neck and back and that I would need to get a doctor to do it.”

Mrs Shermer attempted to get a doctor’s appointment on Thursday, Friday, and Monday, but all without success.

“I rang at exactly 8am on Monday but was told there were no appointments for a GP that day. It was 8.02am – how can all the appointments have gone within two minutes of the practice opening?” said Mrs Shermer.

She had previously made attempts to get the necessary help through 111 without success, but having failed to get an appointment again on Monday, she tried 111 again.

She said: “They managed to get a doctor to access my medical records and they were able to prescribe the painkillers I needed. But it was a real fight to get the help I needed. This cannot be right.”

Mrs Shermer has now written to Mr Barclay and the Health Secretary to complain about the practice and the lack of care she claims she received.

She also posted about her problems on the local Facebook page and her post gathered more than 60 comments, many of them from people who were facing the same difficulty in getting an appointment.

When a Fenland Citizen reporter called the practice, it took a total of 13 minutes to get through to speak to somebody.

A Riverside Practice spokesperson said: “We understand that local people who are registered with our practice may sometimes find it difficult to get an appointment. We recognise that this is an important issue for our patients, particularly as most of us will use general practice as our first port of call when we have a health concern.

“We work hard to prioritise access to appointments based on patient need, and to improve patients’ experience of accessing our practice, including trying to recruit further staff.”

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