The GHA recently launched a complete overhaul of the Primary Care Centre appointment system as part of its Reset, Restart and Recover programme. This saw, amongst other things, an additional 490 GP appointments made available per week, resulting in a total of 11,600 available appointments per month i.e. 2,700 appointments per week and new call flow system measures introduced to prioritise urgent appointments providing clinical advice when on the day appointments were exhausted. We also introduced an arrangement whereby patients could book in advance for non-urgent matters and follow ups. Further reforms such as the introduction of a new mobile health unit will be introduced very soon.
However, the GHA regrets to announce that, despite its best efforts, a tremendous amount of appointments have been lost as a result of non-attendance. This year up until November 2022, 122,985 GP led appointments have been made with 4,358 of these appointments being lost as a result of non-attendance. This equates to 90 appointments being lost every week which could have been re-allocated to patients in need of care had the PCC been informed of the cancellation beforehand. Non-attendance for these appointments is significantly higher, with 12% of Advanced Appointments booked and not being used nor cancelled.
The Public are reminded that appointments can be cancelled by calling 200 72355 between 8.15am and 3.00pm or online via www.gha.gi/cancel-an-appointment/
The GHA Director General, Prof Patrick Geoghegan OBE, said: “Over the past few months, the GHA clinical and administrative staff have worked tirelessly to improve the appointments system at the PCC to make it easier for patients to see a GP. Although, we accept that the system still needs some tweaking, the situation is much improved with just under 500 more GP led appointments available every week since October. We do, however, need you to help us. Please cancel your GP appointments if you do no longer need it as these can then be re-allocated to other patients. Only by working together will be able to deliver the service that everyone expects of its primary care service. Only book an appointment if you need it, we still have people coming to the PCC with mild cough and sore throats which the GPs themselves are reporting that they do not need to be seen. As we have said all along, self-care during the winter period or visit your community pharmacy for advice. I have also been told that some people are booking appointments on-line just in case they need to see a GP and then when the time comes and they are not ill they do not attend and they do not cancel these appointments. By doing this, we are depriving people in our community in receiving the medical attention they need. Winter is here, which means the flu season is upon us. Can I please ask the Community to take up the GHA offer of vaccinations; our Walk-in Vaccination Clinics are open from Mondays to Fridays from 1pm to 8 pm. There are enough resources in primary care to deliver an excellent service but to do this we need your help and for those people who are abusing the system to please stop”.