"NHS is closed" and "I fear things are being missed" - these are some of the verdicts on GP services in York by Press readers.

We asked readers to share their experiences of booking GP appointments during the Covid pandemic and had more than 250 replies.

One patient said they were almost paralysed because their back pain - for which painkillers had been prescribed - turned out to be the series condition Cauda equina syndrome (CES) which if untreated can lead to permanent paralysis and incontinence.

Another reader sent a photo of an inflamed eye to her GP and was told it was a sty; but on a later visit to A&E it was discovered to be a cyst and an operation was needed.

Many readers complained of long waits on the telephone to try to secure GP appointments, often unsuccessfully. The views of many were summed up by this post: "Online care is rubbish; the clerks are making the medical decisions 100 per cent. NHS is closed."

Ann Jeffery of Woodthorpe said: "You are told to ring at 8am and are already number 30 in the queue; how can this be? People are not being served in my community and I fear things are being missed."

But one reader urged us to remember that GPs and healthcare workers have been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic - and staff deserve claps rather than criticism.

Read more: Can't get a GP appointment? What's going on at doctors' surgeries in York

READ MORE: "The doctor will see you now" - government announce U-turn on GP appointments

That is a view shared by leading local GP Brian McGregor who, while acknowledging the problems faced by patients seeking appointments, says he is "proud of what the profession has done" during the pandemic, including their involvement in running the vaccination programme.

He also stressed that GPs are operating under strict Government guidelines which insist patients must be triaged - have an initial telephone consultation - before being seen face to face.

And he urged people to seek advice from the NHS website, pharmacies, 111 and from GP practice websites for minor ailments before requesting to see a doctor. But he stressed that anyone with a lump or suspected cancer symptoms should not delay in booking in with their GP.

Dr McGregor reminded people that Covid-safe measures such as social distancing, PPE and extra cleaning have all impacted on the ability of GPs to see as many patients as they did before the pandemic.

Dr McGregor, who was the lead GP for the out of hours service for York and Selby until March this year, said he expected GP services to continue this way for at least the next six months to a year - or even longer.

York Press: Local GP Dr Brian McGregor gives his verdict on what is going on in GP surgeriesLocal GP Dr Brian McGregor gives his verdict on what is going on in GP surgeries

He said: "I don't think it will go back to how it was. Matt Hancock is pushing for the continuation of online consultation and triage. He is in favour of the tech advances that have come with Covid including remote working. That's the message we get from the Department of Health. He says it is more efficient and can deal with demand better.

"I don't agree. I've been a GP in York since 1992. I am very much a hands-on/holistic GP. I believe in the doctor-patient relationship and want that personal care element and you don't get that personal care element on the phone.

"GPs would like it to be different - but at the moment, we don't have that option."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “GPs have played an incredible role throughout this pandemic and we are grateful for their tireless work. To manage the increased demands placed on general practices, the government has provided an additional £270 million funding to ensure GPs can continue to support all patients.

“As we build back better from the pandemic, the government is committed to expanding the number of appointments for patients to deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year within the next five years.”

GP appointments in York - tell us your story

"Are you struggling to get a GP appointment in York? Please share your story here..."

We asked for your responses - this is what you sent.

Paris Williams

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
York Medical Group had problems well before Covid but Covid has been used as a bandaid for the problems to hide. Covid is their reasoning for everything. The staff are very sensitive to criticism and it depends on who you speak to as everyone gives different answers. I was advised to see 111 for a simple thing, they immediately got me a doctor's call with my usual doctor, yet 30 minutes prior the receptionist had told me there were no appointments. Only having certain sites open is also poor service.

Community contributor

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
I kept trying to get an appointment for severe back pain. No one saw me and they just kept prescribing strong pain killers. I ended up having CES and having to have emergency surgery. Almost ended up paralysed.

Annette Cater

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
Thursday emergency GP appointment. GP sent a text - go to minor eye clinic if you want to. No conversation. Friday, tried GP appointment again, had to explain my diagnosed mental health condition to get an appointment time. Telephone call and then face to face appointment. Said it was just a sty but sent to A&E /eye clinic; said infected cyst to be treated and operation to follow.

Send us a photo, with caption if you wish

York Press: Right eye - doctor had seen this picture on ThursdayRight eye - doctor had seen this picture on Thursday
Right eye - doctor had seen this picture on Thursday

Ann Jeffery

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
Our local practice in Woodthorpe has been closed for a year now. This situation has just been discussed on our local chat group, people just cannot get anywhere with it and what is their excuse now? You are told to ring at 8am and are already number 30 in the queue how can this be. People are not being served in my community and I fear things are being missed.

John Rushton

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
Just keep ringing every morning had to ring 111 in the end.

Community contributor

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
I was born and lived in York until the end of March, I was registered with Priory Medical Group. It has always been a nightmare but much worse the last 5+ years. Ages on hold and sometimes not able to get through, spend days just trying to speak to someone. If and when speak to someone appointments are weeks in advance regardless if something that needs to be seen much sooner. Reception not always helpful and some very rude. I know many people who struggle to speak to reception or get an appointment with Priory Medical Group. I have moved to Selby area, needed the doctors once and much quicker service phones and appointments and reception very helpful!

Community contributor

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
Very much as last story: I've had phone in hand at 7.55am hoping to get through although last time I rang they said I had to use the online system. I am looking after a 90-year-old parent and a 78-year-old husband, so it all falls to me as they would be unable to use that system and I also find what they ask you online doesn't always fit what your want.

NHS patients (copy to telegraph to investigate)

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
Throughout the pandemic we (the patients) have not been able to receive an appointment with a GP. We are told it is due to the pandemic (though it was bad enough getting an appointment pre-pandemic). No face-to-face appointments with a GP at all. Majority of staff including GPs are working from home. Phone the GP at 8am for an appointment - it is engaged, 30 minutes later you are told no appointments are available. Online booking is as bad, there are no appointments. We cannot speak to the same GP even. Online care is rubbish; the clerks are making the medical decisions 100 per cent. NHS is closed.

Community contributor

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
York Medical Group practice: I am a teacher and cannot call between 8 and 10am obviously due to being in class! The one day I had ppa on the morning, I called bang on 8am and was only hold for 52 minutes and was cut off twice - all to find there were no same day appointments left and they couldn't help me and I had to call back each morning til I got an appointment. I ended up calling 111 and got a call back from my gp within in the hour because I was in so much pain.

Joel Arnold

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
GPs and all healthcare professionals are stretched beyond belief, yes the Covid presentations are subsiding however please look back to the sheer workload they have undertaken through the pandemic. I find it sickening that clapping changes to abuse in such a short time!!!

Community contributor

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
I had no problem getting a phone appointment recently an after speaking to a doctor about my ailment, they booked me into see someone at the practice within the hour. I would also like to add that my prescription was sent and processed within 15 minutes, so good job all round. The doctor I saw explained that many patients had ‘stored’ illnesses over lockdown, and now that things are normalising on that front, GPs are dealing with multiple ailments and hence longer appointments with each person they see.

Concerned patient

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
My surgery is York Medical Group and they are a joke! I used to belong to Woodthorpe Practice, always offered a great service, but unfortunately they were taken over by YMG. As other readers have said ring at 8am, number 30 in the queue, finally get through and no appointments left. Rang three weeks ago, the recorded message states 'due to coronavirus some of their surgeries were closed and no non-urgent appointments would be offered for the next week." After one useless video call with a doctor trying to guess why I was in pain, one phone call with another doctor, finally got a face to face. Only one GP available and the waiting room empty when I arrived and again when I left. My dentist has worked throughout this last year, why are GPs working to a different set of rules!

Ralph Cater

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
We are unable to get an appointment with Haxby and Wiggington Healthcare . The latest thing is to send us a text asking to send a picture. My wife and daughter have both found it very difficult to get to see a GP. Understandable, I suppose as they have all had both shots of vaccine and feel they still need to hide away and refuse appointments. My daughter was recently told to go to Boots minor care clinic when she actually needed specialist treatment of an infected cyst in her eye which was very serious. They are atrocious the standard they have fallen to.

Community contributor

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
I rang for an urgent appointment at 9am, was on hold for 25 minutes, spoke to a receptionist, then told someone would ring me back. I got a text at 6pm saying I had an ‘urgent callback book for 9am the next day. Still no contact at noon.

Jason Clark

GP appointments in York - tell us your story
One can not even get through on the phone at times. When one does the only appointments are weeks away. Call takers can be rude and obstructive. Even if and when you get an appointment one attends the surgery, for example a 0930hrs appointment one is not seen until 0950hrs.