GP Phone Appointments

Can anyone else really not cope with having to have phone appointments with the GP?

For obvious reasons, phone appointments are all my GP surgery has been offering since the pandemic started. But I absolutely hate them. I hate the uncertainty of the time they're going to call - with my surgery that's somewhere within a 2 hour window. I hate wondering whether my phone will have signal. I hate trying to explain things, especially the location of pain, over the phone. And I really hate trying to understand what is being said or asked of me. The line is always crackly and there is obviously background noise at both ends of the call, making it really hard to understand what they're saying.

Honestly phone conversations are difficult for me at the best of times, add into that feeling ill and being overly anxious by the time I actually take the call (thanks to all the waiting and signal worries) and I find it hard to speak clearly or take anything in. Which, of course, means I come away feeling like they didn't understand what I was saying and being unsure what their advice was.

And there's no way round it. I've tried explaining how I feel, both over the phone and by email, but they're militant about keeping ALL appointments with doctors over the phone.

I actually don't know what to do about it. I do need to speak to a doctor, which is hard enough to get an appointment for anyway, but the thought of having to do so over the phone makes me feel utterly defeated. I'm really struggling with this and its not helping my mental health at all.

  • I can totally relate to this. I hate talking on the phone, particularly if it is for something important. I have trouble anticipating when the other person is going to speak and I interrupt without meaning to. And yes, I am always worried about the signal. 

  • Yes, I understand your frustration completely.

    I'm not convinced the NHS will ever move back to a patient-centred service. The pandemic was used as an opportunity to usher in remote and online consultations as the primary means of access to heath services. I would be very surprised if they ever returned to how things were previously.  1-2-1 appointments are a thing of the past except when a physical examination is needed. For some people this works well, but for many, I suspect it doesn't.  For physical illnesses, it may cut out the need to waste time hanging around a surgery or taking time off work, but it is completely inappropriate for people with mental illnesses. 

    Something had to change, however, as health services were facing a crisis, unable to cope with the ever increasing demands from an ever increasing population. There were simply not enough GPs, nurses or health practitioners, and an unwillingness to fund and expand the services to make private medical insurance more accessible. 

  • I have the very same problem, I have been self diagnosing lately, I wanted to speak to my gp , I’ve been making notes of what I want to say, but when I try and do this over the phone, my mind blanks and then find it difficult to explain even with the notes, it’s hard for me to understand people sometimes even if it’s face to face, but on a phone it’s worse

  • Oh my goodness, yes! They call at the most arbitrary times, sometimes 3 hours before an appointment or an hour after the appointment. I have to sit there anxiously sweating and feeling sick waiting for the call to come through.

    Phone calls give me severe anxiety anyways but by the time they finally call, my words are all jumbled and I never explain the problem in the way I wanted to :(

  • Hi Mimi, your GP will be doing many consultations by phone but also seeing people when needed - I would ask again to be seen and explain that you find it difficult to talk over the phone; I'm sure they will understand. If they don't then change GP. (Speaking as a GP) Good luck