An Old Clip Of The Public Complaining About NHS Appointments Has Resurfaced – And It's Unbelievable

If you don't laugh, you'll cry.
Tony Blair was bewildered on BBC Question Time over the complaints that NHS doctors were seeing patients only within 48 hours
Tony Blair was bewildered on BBC Question Time over the complaints that NHS doctors were seeing patients only within 48 hours
BBC Question Time/X/Twitter

A 2005 clip of BBC Question Time has resurfaced online – and offers a stark reminder of just how the NHS has changed over the last 19 years.

The footage, from an election special with then PM Tony Blair, showed members of the audience complaining that they are being offered GP appointments too quickly.

One member of the audience complained: “I can’t get an appointment with my local GP unless it’s made in the next 48 hours.

“I can’t make it three days or four days hence.

“I was told that’s because they can meet their target that everybody gets it within 48 hours.”

The average waiting time for a routine GP appointment now is 19 days, according to NHS England’s website.

Blair replied to the audience member: “I’m absolutely astonished at that.

“Let’s be sensible about this, I don’t know about this individual case, obviously, but I would be absolutely astonished if you’re saying to your GP, ‘I don’t need to see you for four days,’ and he’s insisting he sees you in two...”

Another person jumped in, angrily saying: “The doctor is asking you to come back in a week. You can’t make it in a week because you’re only allowed to make it 48 hours beforehand.

“This is my son’s appointment last week, you have to sit on the phone for three hours in the morning, because you’re not allowed to ask for the appointment before that because by making it 48 hours beforehand, you’re meeting the government target.”

The prime minister looked bewildered, and said: “That is news to me, that doctors are insisting that you have to come within 48 hours.

“The whole purpose of this was that people used not to be able to get an appointment with the GP within the whole 48 hours.

“Obviously, it shouldn’t work that way because it would be absurd.”

“Now you can’t get it at all unless it is within the 48 hours,” the audience said.

Someone else in the crowd also argued: “If I ring up and I ask on the Monday for an appointment on the Wednesday, no you’ll have to ring back Wednesday morning.”

“Surely, they are not saying to you that you have to have [the appointment] quicker than you want it?” the PM asked.

People continued to shout, while Blair looked on, perplexed.

You can watch the clip here:

Unsurprisingly, the clip secured over two million views within the fir 24 hours – and X (formerly Twitter) was soon flooded with comments about how much has changed in less than two decades...


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