The current crisis in A&E is extremely worrying for all who may need emergency medical attention.

I have the greatest respect and gratitude for all NHS staff but particularly those working in the hospitals and especially in A&E.

The figures quoted in Tuesday’s Bolton News are not really surprising in that so many are attending A&E when they could have gone to their own GP. However, face to face consultations with GPs nowadays are as ‘rare as hens teeth’.

The majority of consultations are now done over the phone.

Whilst I appreciate that, for minor complaints, that may be appropriate on some occasions, telephone consultations are now becoming the norm.

It feels like you may as well log onto a website, type in your symptoms and the computer gives you a diagnosis and prints out a prescription.

Perhaps that is the way community health practice is going, who knows?

However, when people are ill and worried, they are not reassured by a voice on the end of a phone, particularly when it is their child who is ill or are elderly and frail.

People are frustrated by the length of time it takes to even get an answer from a receptionist let alone get an appointment to actually see someone.

Even if you go to the surgery to make an appointment, in some surgeries, you have to shout all your symptoms through an intercom system whilst other people are queued up behind you listening to everything you say.

Under those circumstances, it is little wonder then that some people are choosing to attend A&E and are prepared to wait for hours but at least get a face-to-face consultation.

It isn’t rocket science!

If A&E doctors have to see patients face-to-face, why on earth do GPs do the majority of their consultations by telephone?

My old GP would be aghast if you asked him over the phone for a prescription because you had an infection or something and were fairly certain what was wrong with you but didn’t want to trouble him.

His answer was “I don’t diagnose over the phone. I am a doctor and I need to see my patients to carry out a proper diagnosis”.

My, how times have changed, but the human body hasn’t!

Sharron Howard