Haverhill: Surgeries criticised by watchdog over appointment times struggles

Annie Topping, CEO of Healthwatch Suffolk.

Annie Topping, CEO of Healthwatch Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

GP surgeries in Haverhill have been criticised after a survey found 43 per cent of residents are not happy with the health services they provide.

However, surgeries in the town have hit back at the Healthwatch Suffolk survey, pointing to recent improvements and criticising their methods.

The watchdog’s research found that patients were finding it difficult to obtain appointments to visit a doctor, while many considered that there were not enough GPs and doctors surgeries available.

It found that 68 per cent of people said that they lacked confidence that they could obtain an appointment to see a doctor when they needed one.

At the Clements practice it was 77 per cent who lacked confidence and at their sister practice Christmas Maltings it was 70 per cent.

GP Partner Dr Giles Stevens said: “The issue I have with that report is firstly Healthwatch did not pass on the information.

“Their findings are based on peoples perceptions of getting an appointment.

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“If they had asked what had happened not what they thought would happen then they might have got a different answer.”

Dr Stevens also highlighted a national shortage of GPs, adding: “We have tried very hard to recruit, it is not that we are sitting back not looking, we have actively sort to increase our staffing levels.

“My standard day is 12 hours long, it is not that we are not working hard.”

Patients of the Stourview Medical Centre had a more positive experience, with 40 per cent sharing the same lack of confidence.

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, refuted the allegations that they had not sent the results to the surgeries.

She said the survey had been designed in consultation with all the practice mangers and had sent the results to them before they were published.

“While this work has focussed on GP services in Haverhill, we believe that the results are indicative of wider challenges faced by our local health and care system,” she said.

“The results of this research strongly suggest that people in Suffolk are already experiencing great difficulty in obtaining appointments to see a doctor.

“Indeed this is supported by many comments on our database.”