Five million patients wait over two weeks for an appointment with their doctor

Huge pressure on surgeries reveal around one in ten patients can’t get seen by a GP for a fortnight.

Booking records for 1.5 million patients also reveal that they had to wait more than 28 days to see a doctor.

The most pressured area in the country – Norfolk and Waveney – showed that nearly one in five patients had to wait three weeks to get checked out.

The findings, verified by the House of Commons library, come to light as GP numbers have fallen by 1,794 since 2015.

The doctor’s watchdog, the Royal College of General Practitioners, has said many GPs are left “exhausted and disenchanted” and leaving the profession.

Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Our patients should be able to see their GP when they need to, so it’s concerning to hear that some people are having to wait days, even weeks, to get the care they need and deserve.

“GPs share patients’ frustration at not being able to get an appointment when they want one, but this is the result of a decade of chronic underfunding in our service, which has, in turn, created a severe shortage of GPs and supporting practice team members.

“Despite this, GPs and our teams are providing more than a million patient consultations a day across the UK, but this is against the backdrop of intense resource and workforce pressures.

“As a result, we’re already seeing many GPs, exhausted and disenchanted, feeling as though they have no choice but to leave the profession early, driving up waiting times and ultimately, putting patient safety are risk.”

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “These figures are concerning, and confirm that more patients are facing longer waits for a GP appointment, and that too many are not getting an appointment when they want one.

“The impact of this on patients should not be underestimated.

“It can be incredibly stressful to face a long wait before getting to see a doctor, quite apart from prolonging the length of time someone has to live with the medical issue that is troubling them.

“All of this is a symptom of an NHS running at boiling point all year round.

GPS EXHAUSTED

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said the “jewel in the crown of our NHS” needs protecting.

He said: “After years of Government underfunding and failure to properly recruit, GP numbers are down by 1,794 since 2015.

“It means it’s getting harder to see your local family doctor putting more pressure on the wider NHS.

“Ministers must now explain whether they have any credible plans to recruit the GPs and wider community health staff needed to provide the standards of care patients deserve.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “GPs are the bedrock of the NHS, and the Long Term Plan makes clear our commitment to the future of general practice, with primary and community care set to receive £4.5 billion more in real terms a year by 2023/24.

“Last year a record 3,473 doctors were recruited into GP training and a new five year contract will see an additional 20,000 staff recruited into general practice – helping ensure patients get the right care and freeing up doctors to spend more time with the patients who need them.”


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