I had a notable experience this morning. I was trying to book an appointment for my wife to be able to go and see her doctor. She was told by NHS Direct yesterday that she should call her surgery first thing (8am) to make an appointment. I called on her behalf at 7:58 (message saying surgery closed) 8:00 (same message) 8:01 (waiting on hold for about 3 minutes) and when I finally got through to someone I was told that all the appointments for today were gone and the earliest that she could see our doctor would be 8th March, i.e. nearly two and a half weeks away. After some discussion the only suitable alternative doctor was available on 1st March but that's still well over a week away. In the end the compromise was that a doctor would call my wife at some point today but that's not really a substitute for a proper consultation.
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