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’.