You may be aware of the new clause that has been imposed by the Government into the new GP contract. It states that if there are no appointments left at the GP surgery, the surgery should not ask you to try again the next day. The surgery must either provide you with an appointment, or “invite the patient to make use of, or direct the patient towards, appropriate services which are available”.

It comes as no surprise that in the run up to the General Election, the public may be led to believe that the situation regarding GP appointments has dramatically improved. There has been a lot of misreporting in the media about the contract changes, with some outlets even suggesting that patients are now guaranteed to get an appointment whenever they ask for one. Sadly, this is not the case as there remains a severe and growing shortage of GPs nationwide which continues to be under-reported by the press. The wording of the new contract, at a glance, may appear to offer hope, but in real terms the situation is no better and barely different.

The only difference you will notice is that when our appointments are fully booked for the day, our reception staff will not ask you to call the surgery back the next day. Instead, they will signpost you directly to an alternative “appropriate service” as per the contract. In other words, you will be asked to contact i-Heart Barnsley, the 111 service, or visit A&E in the case of an emergency. As usual, the recorded voice message on our phone line will be switched on to inform you once appointments are fully booked.

Please be assured that we continue to do everything we possibly can to see to as many patients as possible each day, exceeding the British Medical Association’s and even the Government’s own recommendations for limits on ‘safe working’.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and support.