Having tried telephoning my GP practice for four days (always engaged) to book an appointment, I turned to on-line booking to find ‘no appointments available’.

I went to the practice to be told by a receptionist that I should not be entering the surgery ‘without an appointment’. The receptionist suggested I write to the surgery.

Unsure whether the receptionist was being sarcastic or not, I wrote (nearly five weeks ago) and have had no response, so I assume it was sarcasm.

Without going into details, I simply required the doctor to make a referral for a basic community health service, but time was pressing.

When you do get an appointment, there is often a brusque telephone discussion. You are made aware that the doctor’s time is tight, and you are given little time in which to describe your symptoms.

Worryingly not all people are articulate or confident enough to accurately describe their symptoms fully.

On a basic military battlefield first aid course you were taught to check pallor, breathing, blood pressure, pupils of the eyes, concentration, speech etc, which cannot be done over a telephone. I am sure that doctor’s courses go into these essential visual checks to a far greater degree.

Given the distancing now between GPs and their patients you must wonder how many people are arriving at A&E with far more serious, even life-threatening illnesses, than would be the case if GPs had met the patient face to face

Ron Shambley