Can you insist on a Doctors appointment

Hi wonder if anyone can help I been having trouble getting a doctors appointment the receptionist tells me only emergancy appointments to ring again in the morning but I get told the same thing, they only have a small amount of pre-bookable appointments and I can never seam to get one, are we able to insist to be seen have they got a duty of care.

Hope someone can help before I ring in the morning and rant at the receptionist



There is no point ranting at the receptionist - they are ‘following orders’ and can’t change what they are supposed to do.

Try and keep calm on the phone - yup, if I knew how to do that I’d be a very rich and happy woman! - and phone as early as you can, or actually go to the doctor’s surgery to be ready when they open the doors. That’s what I do with my GP’s surgery. There is usually a group of people waiting to book appointments when the doors open.

Explain why you need to see the doctor and ask what you should do to make sure you can get an appointment. I think crying not shouting makes people want to help you more. Being asked for advice is always an ego boost…

Does NHS Direct still operate? They’d probably get a nurse to ring you back but it may be useful.

I hope you can get an appointment tomorrow.

take care,


Is it a emergency?

If not can you book an appointment in a few days or next week? That’s how our surgery works…

I have the same problem with my surgery, I have to redial again and again from 8am. If I can’t get an appointment and I NEED one then I explain the problem and usually get a phone consultation. Otherwise if it was more urgent I would phone NHS24 and they would refer me to the hospital usually.

I explained this problem to my GP and he now makes follow up appointments for me while I am at the initial docs appointment which is handy, no phoning up the reception.


My Doctors say ring at 8am, If I ring after 5past no appointments available. Try ring ing early.

Hope this helps Sue

Hi Sue,

Tried to reply to you last night - right before the forum had a brainfart, and “mislaid” about a week’s worth of posts (now recovered).

Anyway, the gist was that I have a v. similar situation locally.

I still have over a week to go 'til my GP appointment, even though I requested it last Wednesday. The soonest they could offer me was a fortnight!

If you stick to your guns, will they let you book, but a long way away (weeks)? If so, I’d accept, as it’s better than having to ring every day, to be told you’re still unlucky.

Have you kept count of how many times you’ve been unsuccessful? I would stress this, next time, and say that due to the delay, it is becoming urgent, and you really can’t keep putting it off indefinitely.

I’m never sure exactly what consitutes a GP emergency, anyway. I mean, if I had a REAL emergency (difficulty breathing, bleeding that won’t stop, suspected heart attack etc.) I’d go to the hospital anyway, not join the queue for the doctor.

I tend to regard most MS-related stuff as serious, but not an emergency, for the simple reason it’s unlikely to be life-threatening.

However, I do suspect there are people booking “emergency” appointments for coughs and colds, and wonder whether, because I have a chronic condition I’m relatively patient about, I’m too placid when it comes to trying to book. I never think it’s an emergency, because I know I won’t keel over and die.

But on the other hand, is untreated pain (the problem I’m waiting to see them about at the moment) an “emergency” or not? It’s not agony. And it won’t kill me or cause lasting damage. But it’s not really OK, is it?


IF it is a genuine urgent need, then ask for the duty doctor to call you if they have one- most (though sadly not all) practices will have one doctor who is on standby to deal with urgent cases or same day requests that cannot wait. If they do not have a duty doctor system, make an appointment for the next available slot then at least you have one in prospect. IF you really feel you need attention sooner than that, call NHS Direct. they will assess you over the phone and will confirm if they feel you need to be seen urgently. Whilst I would not advocate playing the system, so again only if you really genuinely need urgent attention, call your surgery after closed and you will either be transferred to or given the number of the primary care out of hours service that all practices will be covered by out of hours - again they will assess you over the phone and arrange to see you if they feel it is clinically necessary.

I have MS (for 13 years). Right now I am waiting for a ‘call back’ from an MS nurse (for a leaky catheter). From NHS FIFE. Yes Doctors can be longer but (hopefully) an MS nurse ‘might’ be quicker? (but that might not be ‘suitable’ for you?) Good luck!


Just had a call back from an MS nurse and she’s (coming to see me!) at 2.30 this afternoon - boy, that’s quick! - All done in a morning, pretty cool, eh?

Marcus. (you might want to see a Dr. though?)

Remember you don’t have to see your doctor, usualy a surgery has a few and if you ask to see any doctor you might have more luck. I agree it’s a crap system but unfortunately it’s the result of free health care, everybody thinks they need to see a doctor regardless of how ill they actually are.

Some surgeries have online booking too, If you need to see a doctor urgently, then you qualify for an emergency appointment as far as I’m concerned, if you just need to see a doctor “at some point” then ask to book in advance, if they then refuse, explain you are disabled and need assistance getting to the hospital so need to know beforehand.

I did have the same problem getting an appointment with my Doctor. The receptionist tried to tell me off for asking for an emergency appointment for a repeat prescription until I explained that I have MS I couldn’t move to get to the surgery til that day and I needed the prescription. I also explained that I couldn’t book an appointment in advance as I can’t always get out of the house. She was very apologetic and told me to let them know when I needed an appointment in future and they would slot me in. I haven’t put this to the test yet, but I am hoping that now they realise they may be slightly more helpful.
My doctor is helpful, even if the reception staff aren’t always!

Isobel x

This could be a promising thread - maybe someone should collect all the posts and send them to our Dear Leader at No 10.
(Sub-text: sort this before you start on the hospitals)

“Sorry, you can only make an appointment for xxxxxxx on the day” - but a different receptionist gave a different answer and an appointment the following day.

“Sorry, you cannot book an appointment for next month” - but someone calls me, to book an appointment for me to visit next month just for a BP check. I assume that this will count as my anual cardiac check-up.

“That will have to be sent away for testing - say, about five days” when I wanted a container for a urine sample to be tested before starting on oral steroids. When I took the sample in the next morning, it was “Come back about 2pm - one of the nurses will have done it at lunchtime”.

I found that two things work better, sometimes:

  • Ask to see one of the nurses - quite often that is all you need if one of them is licensed to prescribe and to refer,
  • Go in to book an appointment, don’t phone. It is harder for someone to say “No” when they are looking you in the eye. Then, if there is a problem, tale a good look at their name badge, smile sweetly, and ask “What do you suggest, then?”. That puts the onus on them to come up with a solution to getting you seen.

Oh, for just a little consistency.


10 years ago, when we moved to our current home, some poor folk ‘next door’ in Bradley Stoke couldn’t get an appointment for 3 weeks. Emergencies were as you would hoope, but if you didn’t need an emergency appointment you had to book one for 3 weeks time.

The joys of living somewhere that was a farm 30 years ago but is now a town, but the infrastructure hadn’t anywhere near caught up with the huge increase in people living in the area. It’s not so bad now - more doctor’s surgerys, a proper library, a health centre and even schools!

Try signing up with a vet!!!

Animals seem to be better treated than humans in our country at the moment.

Try signing up with a vet!!!

Animals seem to be better treated than humans in our country at the moment.

Im dont know if im lucky or what but i manage to see my doc about every 6 vweek and she always makes the next appointment for me there and then but if i have to see a doc urgently i always have to tell the receptionist i am worried about something to do with my ms its wrong and it should not be that way but it is

I am always amazed at how long people have to wait for things. Our surgery is brilliant, you always see the same one unless they’re off for any reason and then you see their “partner”. We always get appointments the same day and on Tuesday I got through at 08.40, after ringing since 08.30 and was aked if I could get there for 09.05; and that’s not unusual.

What is unusual, is my particular doctor is something of a workaholic and if I make an appointment for the afternoon surgery, he turns up in his lunch hour to save me the journey. He often rings people up with bood test results etc in the evening or at weekends. He’s the same with all his patients and is loved by them all.

At one point we were considering moving and discounted certain areas as we’d have had to change practices. I don’t think we have any less patients than other places so I don’t know why we can always get appointments the same day.

I live in Teesside by the way if anyone wants to come!

Sarah x

Hi Sarah,

“Same day” appointments are all very well, and no doubt appreciated if the matter is urgent, but they are not suitable for everyone either.

I am a working person, so all I want to do, for a non-urgent matter, is to book a “reasonable” appointment for a few days time, so I can plan around it. Not in half-an-hour’s time (which would be completely crazy for me - I don’t drive, and couldn’t even get there in time), and not next month! But my doctor’s surgery only seem to do these two extremes.

You are occasionally offered “same day”, but if not, you’re offered something weeks away. You can’t ring up Tuesday, and say you would like to come in Thursday or Friday - a reasonable compromise. I can’t understand why this is impossible. There must be many people with work, school-run or whatever, who don’t want to wait weeks, but equally can’t cope with “OK, come round now!”


Hi Tina,

Sorry to say this …but that wouldn’t be a problem either. If I’d said I couldn’t make it then I would have been asked when I wanted to come. They want to maximise the GPs time, there was obviously a gap and I said I could get there. If I’d wanted to make an appointment for some other time that week, that would have been okay too.

I genuinely feel sorry for people who can’t get appointments when they need them. If one practice can sort it, why can’t they all?

Sarah x


My surgery is similar to yours-FANTASTIC!

Ellie x