Mum Calls GP 650 Times for Sick Baby, Told to Call Back

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A distraught mum from East Lothian, whose infant was under the weather, recounts she rang up her GP a staggering 650 times for an appointment—only to be advised to have another go the next day.

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Leah Cullen, hailing from Musselburgh, was on a mission to connect with Riverside Medical Practice for her son, wee 10-month-old Caleb. The 23-year-old had brought her bairn to the GP a month back, where a skin ailment was met with a prescription cream.

Concerned that the cream hadn’t made a dent, Leah was keen on a follow-up. She spilled to Edinburgh Live about her futile endeavor to land an appointment after approximately 650 dials.

“It’s downright disheartening,” the young mum lamented. “Each time I ring Riverside, it’s at least 100 tries before getting through. And then you’re told the slots are all snapped up.

“I was clear about the 650 calls and that it was for a poorly baby, but they didn’t bat an eye. Just said to try again tomorrow.

“The first time around, they reckoned it was impetigo and handed me a cream they said would do the trick. A month on, it’s only getting worse and spreading. Yet, all I got was a ‘call back tomorrow’.

“Dealing with Riverside is a right pain; it’s always a struggle getting through to them,” she grumbled.

Leah isn’t alone in this Musselburgh saga. She says, “Some folks would rather endure their ailments than wrestle for an appointment with them. I haven’t lodged a complaint, thinking it’ll be in vain.”

Edinburgh Live has previously covered patient woes with East Lothian’s medical practice, one case being a uni student who had to call 216 times before getting through to Riverside.

A request for comment from Riverside Medical Practice was made by our sister title.

The surgery’s spokesperson once stated, “All General Practices take complaints to heart and we’re concerned when patients voice issues about access—we strive for the best for our patients.

“The Practice maintains its stance from 2022’s independent review, delivering services at full tilt given the resources at hand.

“Like all Practices, we’re knee-deep in enhancing quality, like pioneering online medication reviews, digitizing admin tasks, revamping call handling, and exploring tech to cut down call volume. Yet, such advancements alone won’t meet the scale of access improvements patients across Scotland expect—that’s in the Scottish Government’s court.

“The British Medical Association reminds us that practices’ capacity and appointment availability largely hinge on Scottish Government’s investment, workforce planning, and prioritization of General Practice.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson noted, “Scotland boasts more GPs per capita than the UK, with a historic high of 1,200 GP trainees in Scotland’s pipeline.”

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