Well, I never thought this day would come, but my NHS doctor's service is such a shambles, today I booked a private GP appointment at a BUPA hospital. £103 for 30 minutes, but the appointment is for this time tomorrow.
Compare that to my GP surgery, which has 12 doctors and the following system:
No 'advance' appointments allowed. You can't phone up and ask to see someone next week.
If you want an appointment, you have to call at 8:30am when the surgery opens to get one of the day's appointments. The line is engaged until around 10am.
If you are lucky enough to get a 'today' appointment, you have to drop everything to get there, or be lucky enough to have an understanding boss who will let you have time off at no notice.
More likely, though, you have no chance of getting a 'today' appointment, in which case you are invited to attend of two daily 'emergency' clinics, which run from 10am to noon, and 3pm to 5pm. Basically you turn up, register for the clinic, and wait, usually for a minimum of 90 minutes although I've sat there for more than two hours. They stress on the phone that the clinic appointments are for emergencies only, but of course everyone uses them for routine stuff. The trouble is, the GPs on clinic duty that day have to get through all of the patients, so you get about two minutes with the doctor and they rush you off asap.
I hate it.
It could be worse, I suppose, my sister's GP surgery doesn't give appointments unless they can help it. Instead, you have to tell the receptionist what's wrong with you (!), and she puts you into a triage system of callbacks. If it's important, the doctor will call you back quickly and either diagnose and prescribe over the phone (yes, really), or invite you in for an appointment. If it's less urgent, you can wait all day for a callback or even into the next day. If you happen to be at work when the doc calls, you have to describe your symptoms over the phone. Not fun if you don't work somewhere where there's a completely private area. You can make an appointment for later in the week, unlike my clinic, but only over the phone and only in the morning. If you drop in in person in the afternoon while you're passing, they will not allow you to make an appointment. My sister has witnessed the receptionist telling a woman to go home and phone in for an appointment.
It's mental, mental, mental.
So, I've bailed, because I have a very nasty ear problem and I'm not playing the stupid GP games any longer.
I used Bupa for an operation two years ago because I was covered by hubby's work insurance, but I never thought I'd see the day when I'd willingly pay just to get some time with a doctor :(