Grieving relatives who lost loved ones because of the lack of access to GPs lined up yesterday to hail the Daily Mail’s crucial role in securing more face-to-face appointments.
Frustrated patients also spoke out after Health Secretary Sajid Javid unveiled a nine point plan to reverse the dramatic decline in in-person consultations.
Measures include a league table to name and shame doctors who won’t see patients and extra money for surgeries to pay for locums and other health professionals to ease their workload.
Mail’s campaign has made a real difference
One woman widowed by the scandal was Lisa King, whose 62-year-old husband Peter was denied an appointment in July last year despite complaining of stomach pains.
Peter King, 62, was told he had acid reflux and died three months later
The retired taxi driver was told he had acid reflux. But he died three months later, leaving his wife without a husband at the age of 55 and his two sons aged 19 and 21 fatherless.
Mrs King, of Brentwood, Essex, said: ‘The Daily Mail campaign has made a real difference and I am pleased.
‘Not for me – nothing can bring Peter back – but I’m pleased that maybe no one else will get refused an appointment only to be told later they have stage four cancer and only weeks to live.’
She expressed gratitude for this newspaper publicising her case, adding: ‘There were some GPs on Twitter that condemned the Daily Mail for the campaign and I found that quite disgusting.’
My husband died after 18-month wait to see a GP
Brenda Farrow, 75, lost her husband Michael to cancer of the oesophagus in August after he tried to see a GP for 18 months.
Mrs Farrow said: ‘Your campaigns do work. Without it, things would have just carried on as they were.’
Retired shoe repairer Mr Farrow, 76, made ‘eight or nine’ requests for in-person consultations but was fobbed off with calls and prescribed medication – also for acid reflux.
Brenda Farrow, 75, lost her husband Michael to cancer of the oesophagus in August after he tried to see a GP for 18 months
He eventually paid for a private consultation and was referred to a specialist who made the devastating diagnosis in April – and revealed that he had been suffering from the disease since last year.
The grandfather, from Litherland, near Liverpool, started chemotherapy but passed away four months later.
Eight months of needless pain
Retired estate agent June Walker, who suffered eight months fo crippling headaches due to undiagnosed high blood pressure, said: ‘I’m so glad the Daily Mail took on the campaign, you have done a wonderful job.’
Mrs Walker, 67, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, called her local surgery about her constant headache in November last year.
No doctors were prepared to see her in-person and she was referred for physiotherapy.
She endured eight months of ‘completely unnecessary’ pain until her high blood pressure was diagnosed in June this year when she was admitted to hospital for another problem.
Mrs Walker added: ‘Some things simply can’t be diagnosed over the phone.’
Fury of former NHS Trust chief
Former NHS trust chairman Nick Stokes said the Mail had won an important battle – but warned it was ‘not the end of the war’ as bodies that represent GPs refuse to accept the scale of the problem.
Nick Stokes, who sadly lost his wife, Joy, to cancer, at his home in Worton, Devizes, Wiltshire
Joy Stokes, 69, died of breast cancer in April after an ‘avoidable’ six month delay in her diagnosis
The 74-year-old lost his wife Joy, 69, a retired PE teacher, to breast cancer in April after an ‘avoidable’ six-month delay in her diagnosis.
She was ‘constantly fobbed off’ by reception staff until finally seeing a GP in July, leading to tests that showed the disease had already spread to her bones and brain.
‘The biggest positive is that the Government hasn’t given up on this. They have accepted that there is a real problem,’ said Mr Stokes, from Wiltshire.
‘But getting the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners to accept the same is another question altogether. Unfortunately, they are the voice of GPs.
‘Hopefully, we will win in the end. It’s another battle won but it’s not the end of the war.’
I hope our stories lead to change
The daughter of a hospice carer who died from cancer said she hopes GPs will now move ‘swiftly’.
Lisa McBlane, 33, lost mum Gill Dutton, 65, to lung cancer – six months after a GP brushed aside her cough in a telephone appointment
Lisa McBlane said her mother Gill Dutton’s GP brushed aside her cough in a telephone appointment last April.
Six months later, a severely delayed CT scan revealed the grandmother-of-three, 65, had stage four lung cancer.
She died at her home in Tamworth, West Midlands, in August.
Hailing the Mail’s victory yesterday, Mrs McBlane, 33, said: ‘I do hope that the sharing of her story, and stories of others, will encourage GPs to move swiftly with this plan and get their patients back into surgeries.’