The Southern Health Trust has issued an apology after patient confusion led to a busy Co Armagh GP surgery pulling an ‘inaccurate’ recorded message.
Patients at Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown, which has been plagued with staffing issues over recent years, had been greeted with a recorded message which claimed they were unable to offer pre-bookable appointments with GPs.
The practice, which deals with more than 5,000 patients, had been playing the recorded message in recent days saying: “We apologise that at present we are temporarily unable to offer pre-bookable appointments with the GPs due to doctors leaving and illness.”
It is understood that some of the information in the message was ‘inaccurate’.
A number of patients had voiced upset that they found it difficult to get through to the surgery to make and appointments.
Some felt it reflected a similar ‘crisis’ several years ago which led to the practice being in danger of closure due to a lack of GPs.
One patient said she had been contacting the surgery constantly between 8.30 and 9am but only got an engaged tone or recorded message. When she finally went to the health centre, she was told today (Tuesday) was ‘emergencies only as there was only one doctor on duty’.
She said the situation is ‘totally unacceptable’. “This is 2019 and we are having to put up with a broken NHS,” she said.
It is understood extra locums have been drafted in.
A spokesperson for the Southern Health Trust said: “Patients telephoning Bannview Medical Practice in recent days may have heard an inaccurate recorded message about staffing within the service and we apologise for any upset this may have caused.
“This message has now been removed and we encourage any patients with concerns to contact the Practice for more information.”