JOANNA Blythman ("The real (and very worrying reason) why your family GP won’t see you now", The Herald, May 15) makes it perfectly clear that she has no idea what a day in the life of a GP involves. I wondered if your readers would be interested in some of the real reasons why most GP surgeries in Scotland offer a triage service rather than patients booking face-to-face appointments directly?

Pre-pandemic we offered a telephone triage service but patients could also make their own routine appointments. Now we have a total telephone triage system and mostly deal with the issues over the telephone, ask for photos for appropriate lesions (this suits most patients by the way; why visit the surgery if you don’t need to?), and give face-to-face appointments to those patients who need to be seen. On the day for urgent problems.

We struggle to cope with the volume of calls and requests. We have less availability of face-to-face appointments than pre-Covid. The reasons are many. We now have 15-minute appointments instead of 10 minutes. We need to clean down the chairs, equipment and so on – it is just practicalities, not being workshy. Plus there are more patients with multiple complex problems that take longer to deal with. Our practice is a doctor short – a GP left, another has retired, another close to retirement has reduced sessions.

Like other practices, we cannot get locums to bridge the gaps. The part-time GPs are all working extra days. We are working Saturdays to vaccinate our patients. We are still providing education to train our future GPs and medical students. We have the normal sickness and holiday leave that all businesses have to work around. The demand from patients does not stop if we are a GP short. The mental health of the nation is suffering – this does not take a two-minute phone call but a lengthy in-depth one. There are home visits, palliative care visits, chronic disease management clinics, medication reviews, actioning test results, X-ray results, emergencies – the list goes on and on. How do you fit this all in? We are trying to manage our workload as best we can. We have to reserve our face-to-face appointments for those who need them, so have telephone consultations where possible.

I love my job as a GP. It is a rewarding and privileged profession. We go into this job to make a difference to people's lives. It has its ups and downs like any job, and we are only human so do not get it right all of the time. But we are on our knees with the workload. Morale is not helped by misinformed articles. For the first time in my life I am considering taking early retirement.

Dr Fiona Price, Perth.

* I JUST do not recognise Joanna Blythman’s description in our GP practice. I think she must live in another country. When I phone the surgery, I receive a welcoming receptionist’s voice, with no mention of "due to pandemic" messages and my concerns are listened to carefully. If I or my husband need to see a doctor, it is arranged and dealt with sensitively and appropriately. Yes, it has been slightly different recently, but mainly we do not turn up too early for our appointments.

We have never had anything but fantastic service from all at our surgery.

Joan I Frondigoun, Glasgow.

* I AM grateful to Joanna Blythman for highlighting the issues with GP services. In April last year, I wrote to The Herald to draw attention to those very issues.

Although it is now possible in my town to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP you have to jump through hoops to achieve this.

Francis Deigman, Erskine.


THE mention in The Big Read on Saturday of the case of Donoghue v Stevenson which became famous for establishing the law of negligence ("Cases that gripped the public while making legal history over past 200 years", The Herald, May 15) reminded me of a dinner that I attended in Paisley Town Hall in (I think) 1990, which was held to celebrate the world renowned case and in Paisley for obvious reasons (the snail was found in the ginger bottle in a cafe in High Street, Paisley).

As well as local dignitaries the dinner was attended by a large number of Canadian lawyers and their wives who recognised the importance of the case.

W MacIntyre, East Kilbride.


YOUR article on changing place names ("Can you place the name, and name the place?", The Herald, May 15) leads me to think of changing pronunciations.

In days of yore, golfers took the bus from Killermont (emphasis on the first syllable) Street in Glasgow, to Killermont (emphasis on the second syllable) Golf Course in Bearsden.

Currently, I understand that the name of the village of Gullane should be pronounced as it reads, whereas the cognoscenti of the Edinburgh area prefer the pronunciation Gillane.

A whiff of old-fashioned upper-class refinement in both cases?

David Miller, Milngavie.