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Patient ‘felt sick’ at having concerns used to scapegoat GPs in the media


GP workload


A patient has said she ‘felt sick’ after a tweet of hers was used on the front page of the Metro to scapegoat GPs for a lack of access.

Francine Jury, a health data science manager from Manchester, took to her personal Twitter account last Thursday (16 September), to say that she dialled her GP practice 673 times to get in the queue.

Ms Jury ended her sentiment by describing primary care as ‘broken’.

Today (22 September), the Metro, one of the country’s most widely-circulated free publications, ran its front page with her frustrations splashed across it.

But Ms Jury lambasted the editorial move, feeling that it did not reflect her true concerns and going onto recount feeling ‘sick’ upon catching sight of it.

Writing to the Metro, Ms Jury said she felt her tweet had been ‘exploited’, and that it was ‘entirely unfair’ to ‘make it look like’ she was ‘complaining about’ her GP.

Instead, she stressed that ‘GPs need more financial support’ amid a ‘broken’ system, citing how her GP had to ‘disable the online booking system because they are so overwhelmed’.

Ms Jury, who was making the calls on behalf of her partner rather than herself, would like to see Sajid Javid, who took over as health secretary this summer, ‘take a serious look at primary care’.

Ms Jury, who gave her consent to Pulse to reprint her letter, told the Metro: ‘Whilst the full story provides more balance, it was entirely unfair to make it look like I was complaining about my GP. The system is broken, GPs need more financial support for their practices and flexibility to find creative solutions to meet the needs of their unique patient populations. 

‘My GP has had to disable the online booking system because they are so overwhelmed, hence having to make that call. The sad thing is it wasn’t even for me. My partner had tried to get an appointment and given up. When I said I would try on his behalf I made a point of noting the effort.’

She went onto urge health secretary Sajid Javid to ‘take a serious look at primary care’.

‘It is past breaking point and these GPs still work 14-16 hour days in really mentally trying roles, going back into work the next day treating patients with compassion and care and professionalism.

‘No one chooses to be a GP for the money – it takes a really special person to choose that life, and we cannot blame them for leaving in droves putting even more pressure on the system.

Jeremy Hunt promised 6,000 more GPs and there are less now than ever. It’s not their fault that patients can’t get through on the phone and they worry about those who cannot as much as those who do.’

She added that the NHS’s ‘incredible staff’ can ‘provide us with a pathway to health but this requires us as patients to listen, understand and work at it’ but questioned how this would be possible without adequate support for primary care and community services.

In a glowing accolade, she told the paper: ‘GPs do so much more than diagnose and treat. They are counsellors, consolers, teachers, investigators, mind readers and they don’t deserve a beating.’

And she concluded: ‘Like an overgrown garden, primary care needs to be re-landscaped to provide the strong and secure structures it needs to support it, weeding to get rid of what is suffocating it and give GPs in collaboration with their patients the choice of what to plant so that they can bloom in their community.’

The Metro piece, which appeared online as well on the front pages frequented by commuters, further incorporated the example of another patient said to have called a Swindon practice ‘390 times to arrange cancer medication for her husband’.

READERS' COMMENTS [7]

Chris GP 22 September, 2021 6:00 pm

The metro = The Mail. Genetically they are the same. Shoddy journalism with a persistent editorial line? Quelle suprise.

Anony Mouse 22 September, 2021 6:44 pm

We should applaud this lady for having the courage to speak out against the newspaper, whose agenda is clearly to jump on the bandwagon of GP bashing

Reply moderated
David Banner 23 September, 2021 10:45 am

Re Kevlar Cardie – indeed, lightning fast reflexes – 673 calls in 28 minutes works out as 1 call every 2.5 seconds. Olympic standard dialling!

Dylan Summers 23 September, 2021 11:42 am

In case Francine reads some of the comments here – I assure you some of us are grateful for what you did.

R Croft 23 September, 2021 4:42 pm

Perhaps GPS should try phoning their own surgeries-mine 10 calls to get on line then 4 minutes of why they aren’t arranging COVID vaccination then3 minutes of why not to call anyway then 45 mins to be answered and told that I would be called back the. 1 hour wait for call of 1 minute by trainee who said yes you should have an appointment that mot
Luckily my FRCGP training told me he was correct!

Reply moderated
David Turner 29 September, 2021 9:30 am

Great to hear a good news story for once. Can we send this to the Mail and others in the media who seem to take pleasure in casting GPs as the villain ?
We must remember their only agenda is to sell newspapers and bad news sells.

Katharine Morrison 29 September, 2021 9:01 pm

Thank you for your compassion Francine. The system is indeed truly broken and has been for a very long time. Either we need to improve resources a great deal or we need to limit demand a great deal. There is a huge mis-match between demand and ability to meet it no matter how hard GPs and their staff work.