Graham Simpson (Con) surveyed local GPs to ask how they were coping during the pandemic. The survey was distributed to GP Practice Managers across the region covering NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Forth Valley, and received 31 responses.
On a positive note, 23 surgeries reported that missed appointments have decreased since the pandemic, with six increasing and two having no change.
However, only six surgeries had not received any complaints about patients being unable to see a GP.
He said: “Surgeries are open and people can get to see a doctor if they need to but the system is very different to how it used to be.
“You may be advised to go to a pharmacy or to self-refer to certain services.
“Doctors will phone you in the first instance – that’s very different to before – and then, if you need to be seen face-to-face you will be.
“It is taking a lot of getting used to. The practices that I spoke to are busier than ever now. In one case the waiting list just for a phone call is five weeks, though if it’s urgent you will be seen that day. That same practice is short of GPs and can’t find replacements. It’s not good enough.
“What was also clear is there are different ways of getting health advice and help but patients don’t know where to look. Health boards should be doing more to signpost people, or helping practices to provide clear and consistent advice.”
Also in the survey, 29 of the 31 respondents felt that patients are relying on GP services when they could find solutions elsewhere, such as a community pharmacist or by calling 111. Two respondents did not think this. While, 100 per cent of responses believe there is a role for the Scottish Parliament to play in improving the patient experience at a GP Practice level.