CALLS have been made to resume face-to-face GP appointments in Basingstoke.

The question of whether in-person GP appointments should return to surgeries in the town was put to the public by the We Love Basingstoke community forum which is used by more than 8,000 people in the town.

Most people responded to say they believe face-to-face GP appointments should resume, with others highlighting issues with the current system.

Since the pandemic began, patients have been asked to fill in an online e-consultation and will usually receive a call-back from a doctor within 24-hours.

GPs will then decide whether to invite a patient into the surgery to see them face-to-face.

Alternatively, for urgent advice, patients can telephone in the morning for a ‘rapid access’ appointment and expect a doctor to call them back that day.

However, patients are still unable to make an appointment for a specific time – either by phone or face-to-face.

Claire Mccann Bellwood highlighted one of the problems with this, saying: “Try having a gynaecology appointment on the bus!”

Julie Emery believes GPs should see patients face-to-face, saying: “It is important to see people to make a proper diagnosis.”

Donna Maria Brewer said she was “fed up” with trying “for ages” to get an appointment.

Gemma Gardiner had the same problem and said: “Currently waiting three days to speak to my doctor then decide if I need to be seen in person. It’s crazy.”

Denise Hinton said face-to-face appointments are “long overdue” explaining: “It’s horrendous trying to get to see a doctor. They need to get back to dealing with people face-to-face the same as the rest of us.”

Sarah Cutcliffe added: “If hairdressers and beauticians can then yes, there is absolutely no excuse for this.”

Natalie Kretzschmar believes face-to-face appointments are not essential, and added: “But they do need more doctors and more receptionists to deal with demand particularly after merging with Rooksdown.”

Kate Morgan Wheeler, who works in a GP practice, defended doctor surgeries explaining that they have been dealing with “the ever-growing demand and still seeing patients”.

She added: “The reason we need to be careful is that if a member of staff comes into contact or contracts Covid, it means other staff members that need to be tested or isolate and the practice needs to be deep cleaned, thus meaning lots of staff off and closure of part if not all of the practice.”

NHS England advised GP practices on July 19 – when Covid-19 restrictions eased – that they should “continue to offer a blended approach to face-to-face and remote appointments, with digital triage where possible”.

A petition launched on has attracted more than 300,000 signatures and calls on the government to resume face-to-face GP appointments.

Maria Kouva, who started the petition, said: “With Covid restrictions being lifted, why is it still not possible to see your GP face-to-face for far too many people?”

She explained that her 89-year-old father was diagnosed as having fluid on his lungs over the telephone. He later ended up in A&E.

Maria said: “A&E are overwhelmed now with people who either should have been treated at GP level or with health issues that have escalated because of the lack of GP appointments and that, when they do get an appointment, it’s usually not face-to-face with a medical professional.”

She added: “From May 17 you could dine or drink inside, attend huge events and the government have even given the green light to hugging, but we still need someone to assess our health on the phone.”

North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been asked for a comment.