Why can’t I get an appointment with a GP?

Why can’t I get an appointment with the GP? This video explains the reasons you might find it difficult and how to get an appointment for your healthcare needs. 

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00:00 Can you see a GP?

00:18 Why can’t you see your GP?

02:34 I can’t use online consultations

03:34 Why do reception staff ask personal questions?

04:34 Other practice members

04:49 Other healthcare professionals

05:39 Other services

Why can’t I see my GP?

The public and media often ask the question why cant i see my GP?

In 2020 like most of healthcare, general practice changed. 

Covid and the organisations that commission healthcare pushed General Practice to work in a digital means first to reduce exposure. Now many feel that as a result, they can not see their GP or practice team which is not true. 

At the time of this episode, it is worth knowing most practices are offering more appointments and contacts than pre-covid with demand outstripping the capacity in part because of years of underfunding and a limited workforce. In addition media stories that only highlight the difficulties and do not share the millions of patient contacts that happen in General Practice each month may give a biased opinion. 

Practices have changed the way they assess and see patients to protect the most clinically vulnerable patients and this is unlikely to change due to growing demand. 

Even before COVID increasing numbers of practices offered a telephone or online first system to make sure patients saw the right person for the right reason. Since COVId most practices now offer a telephone or online first system. This allowed the team to assess patients remotely and consider an effective way to assess patients. Ie prevent a patient from taking a day off work just to talk about their medications or assess a patient face to face with abdominal pain that has not improved with self-care. 

In many cases, healthcare issues can be as effectively managed with a telephone consultation rather than a face-to-face meeting. However, if you need an examination then you will be given an appointment. 

I can’t use the online ways of accessing my practice

Many practices now use online ways to direct healthcare issues. These can be for urgent and routine care either via the practice website, practice app or the NHS app, and if you want a guide check out the end of this episode for one. 

This route can be convenient for many and in England is now a contractual part of General Practice as required by NHS England. 

If you struggle to use these routes, enquire at your practice about ways they can help or the other routes. All practices should have other ways to help and the reception staff can help you understand your options. 

Why do reception staff ask personal questions?

GP reception staff or admin staff help navigate patients to different parts of a practice. 

Many practices now offer different clinicians and services due to the shortage of GPs and the reception staff are best placed to navigate you to these resources. They are a confidential service trained to help and provide your information to help prioritise your care to the right person or team in the practice or elsewhere.

Other practice members

Many GP practices now have teams of people to help who work alongside a GP. 

These may include nurses, healthcare assistants, advanced nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health workers, physician associates, paramedics, health and well-being coaches, social link workers, care coordinators, podiatrists, dieticians, occupational therapists, and more. 

Your individual needs may be better dealt with by one or other members of these teams which can complement and enhance your care

Before we talk about other places to get help, 

Your GP practice is a part of your healthcare services. With the changing landscape of healthcare you may find other services that can also support your health needs such as :

Health information on

Your local pharmacy

Your local optician

Your local dentist for all teeth related issues

For recent injuries, you may have to use minor injury units or urgent care centres. 

Accident and emergency departments should also be used for a healthcare issue that can not be delayed or maybe a threat to life or limb. 

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