Recent news items have highlighted GPs’ increasing workloads, patient suicides, GPs moving abroad, and patients who are unable to register with a GP having to access care via A&E and more. All these situations are worrying for Irish patients.
But patients experiences with GPs have not been mentioned. Recent stories in ‘Victims of the HSE’ mailbox include patients asked to remove themselves from their GP list, GPs refusing to take on patients, GPs failing to refer patients for tests, and GPs charging for blood tests. They claim the charge is not for the blood test per se, but for the courier.
What patients don’t know is that GPs are paid by the HSE for their courier services.
Our concern is the rise in patients deemed ‘difficult’ or ‘troublesome’ being asked to leave their GP. A patient questioning practice or advocating for their needs can be labelled difficult. We are not talking of patient aggression or violence towards GPs.
One patient attempted to ask her GP of six years to rewrite a referral letter to a neurologist to make it a ‘stronger plea’. She felt the eight lines written were not sufficient to secure an appointment. She was right. She now has no neurologist.
The GP stood up over her and shouted “you are telling me what to write” and he stormed out of the room. She was left in a heap of distress and crying “what did I do wrong?” She then received a letter from the medical card office, saying her GP had “dumped her”.
Another patient put on a Facebook forum that her GP surgery, which was billed as ‘disabled accessible — with a lift’, had five doors between ground level and the GP rooms. She could not go through these doors in her wheelchair, as, due to a muscular degenerative disease, she could not both open these five (manual) doors and steer her powered wheelchair. She did not identify either her GP or the surgery. Rather, she was challenging what ‘disabled accessible’ meant. Someone told the GP and the patient received a letter telling her to “find another GP”. Her Facebook post was given as the reason.
There’s no knowing how many patients have suffered this hugely unfair and scandalous treatment by GPs.
It needs to be examined and patients need a fair process, where disagreement can be settled amicably, not abusively.
We would welcome patients’ experiences.