Mum ‘in tears’ after being ordered to mention ‘one problem per appointment’ at doctors surgery but GPs say it is for patients’ ‘own safety’

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A mum claims she was left ‘in tears’ after being told to mention only ‘one problem per appointment’ at her doctors surgery.

Patients at Park View Medical Centre, in Crumpsall, Greater Manchester, have been receiving the stark warning via text when they receive confirmation of their appointments.

Ela Kluczkowska claims she left an appointment in tears after a GP told her she wasn’t allowed to bring up more than one symptom.

The 39-year-old says she had no choice but to prioritise which concern was more urgent, then ‘waste hours’ on the phone when it could have been discussed within her ten-minute slot.

The mother feels it could be ‘dangerous’ to not take all of her symptoms on board.

She told MailOnline: ‘It’s not fair. You go to them to ask for help when you’re not well. Doctors are meant to help people, they should take all your symptoms on board.’

Ela Kluczkowska claims she left an appointment in tears after a GP at Park View Medical Centre in Greater Manchester told her she wasn't allowed to bring up more than one symptom

Ela Kluczkowska claims she left an appointment in tears after a GP at Park View Medical Centre in Greater Manchester told her she wasn’t allowed to bring up more than one symptom

Patients at Park View Medical Centre, in Crumpsall, Greater Manchester, have been receiving the stark warning when they receive confirmation of their appointments

Patients at Park View Medical Centre, in Crumpsall, Greater Manchester, have been receiving the stark warning when they receive confirmation of their appointments

While a 76-year-old patient, who wishes to remain nameless, said the idea that the policy is about ‘patient safety’ is ‘ridiculous’ and contradictory as it discourages people from raising secondary concerns at all.

However, Park View Medical Practice has defended its policy and said limiting each appointment to one issue, ‘allows GPs to dedicate their expertise to the specific concern at hand, reducing the risk of oversight or miscommunication’.

Ela, from Crumpsall, Greater Manchester, said: ‘When I went for my appointment and wanted to bring [another symptom] up, the doctor told me ‘No, you need to make another appointment’.

‘I’m sitting there thinking, ‘seriously?’.

‘If I have two small issues, it could be discussed in 10 or 15 minutes. I was so confused and upset, I came home and I was crying.

‘It’s not fair. You go to them to ask for help when you’re not well. Doctors are meant to help people, they should take all your symptoms on board.

‘People who are working can’t come [in] every day. I have to take time off from work to only get seen for ten minutes.

‘Then the next day I have to waste two hours on the phone and I don’t even know if I’m going to be seen or not.

‘Now I have to think ‘which is more urgent for me to be seen for?’ because I can’t go there every day.’

But Park View Medical Centre states: ‘By limiting each appointment to one issue, we prioritise patient safety and quality of care. 

‘This approach allows our healthcare professionals to dedicate their expertise and attention to addressing the specific concern at hand, reducing the risk of oversight or miscommunication’.

However, patients argued the policy has a contradictory effect as it puts them off raising the secondary concern at all.

The female patient said: ‘[The last time I went], I kept looking at my watch because I wanted to ask her something else but I didn’t dare.

‘Now I need to make another appointment and wait to hear back but it’s like a two or three-week wait.

‘It puts me off from following up on the second issue.

‘They say it’s for patient safety which is just ridiculous because how does it affect our safety?

‘It seems counterintuitive, if anything it’s less safe.’

Pictured: A confirmation message from Park View Medical Centre confirming the 'one problem per appointment' rule to patients

Pictured: A confirmation message from Park View Medical Centre confirming the ‘one problem per appointment’ rule to patients

Ela is upset by the rule as well as how difficult it has become to even book an appointment, especially as a working mum.

Ela said: ‘Calling them in the morning, it’s like a miracle [to get an appointment].

‘You’re wasting an hour or an hour and a half in this queue. When they finally pick up they don’t have any appointments left.

‘I’ve got a life, I work, I don’t have time to waste calling.

‘You have to wait longer for something which would only have taken a couple of minutes.

‘I don’t want to waste their time coming every week. It’d be better to go with two small things and sort it.’

The practice said that if someone needed to discuss two issues, longer appointments to discuss multiple issues can be requested when booking in – but failed to inform patients of this in the text messages.

However, the 76-year-old patient claimed staff had told her she could ‘only discuss one thing’ when she said she had a couple of issues and it was only after being ‘firm’ did she get a longer one – but it has left her ‘not daring to ask’ again.

She said: ‘I said to the receptionist, ‘I need to discuss a couple of things’.

‘Straight away you get, ‘No you can’t, you can only discuss one thing’. I had to be firm [to get a double appointment].

‘It’s not clear enough for patients that they even could get a double appointment.

‘They never mention it. I haven’t done it since, even though I really want to, I don’t think I dare.

Ela (pictured) is upset by the rule as well as how difficult it has become to even book an appointment, especially as a working mum

Ela (pictured) is upset by the rule as well as how difficult it has become to even book an appointment, especially as a working mum

‘It doesn’t make you want to go back for an appointment at all.’

Ela is worried by the rule as she believes her headaches and dizziness may be linked to her hearing loss, but by not being able to mention this in her appointment, she feels it left her at risk.

Ela said: ‘My dizziness and hearing loss at some point can be connected and this could be dangerous as I fainted once in a shop.

‘If I had hit my head, I could die and my two kids would be without a mother. They weren’t there to support me or give me help. They just ignored it.

‘At first I was furious with them, but now I’m just confused and upset with how they work.

‘I was feeling really neglected and without help. I was left feeling really on my own. I feel like they aren’t bothered about my health.’

A Park View spokesperson said the surgery ‘strives to provide the highest quality of care’ and reminding patients of its appointment rules ‘is a policy that many GP practices follow UK wide’.   

They added: ‘We understand that patients may have multiple concerns and it can be challenging to address them all in a single appointment. 

‘However, by implementing this policy, we aim to provide focused and comprehensive care to each patient, ensuring that their medical concerns are thoroughly evaluated and addressed.

‘We would always welcome patients to contact the practice with any concerns regarding their appointment by either calling the practice or visiting our website for more information on how to get in touch.

‘All the above information has been provided with limited, anonymous information provided and as stated above if any patients would wish to contact the practice this can be discussed further.’

Rob Bellingham, chief officer for commissioning and population health at NHS Greater Manchester said he was sorry to hear about the patients’ experiences but described the ‘hard work’ GP practices put into ‘providing timely appointments for their patients as demand continues to rise for care’.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Individual practices will have their own procedures to manage escalating demand in the best way they can – but we cannot escape the fact that GP practices across the country are struggling to do so under the strain of increasing workload and workforce shortages.

‘When making a diagnosis, GPs will strive to take into account all the different factors that may be impacting on a patient’s health. This is what we’re trained to do. But this approach takes time, which means that 10-minute consultation is increasingly unfit for purpose as our patients live with more complex health needs.’

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