Dr David Crichton, chair of Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the situation was ‘incredibly challenging’ while responding to a detailed Healthwatch report which said that access to surgeries was becoming more difficult.
The Covid-19 pandemic is being blamed and that this has resulted in fewer people coming forward with symptoms of cancer, increasing numbers presenting with mental health problems and some backlogs stretching 18 months.
Dr Crichton said that discussions were taking place both on a local and national level about how to tackle access to local surgeries. One of the improvements mentioned could be to better promote pharmacies and chemists in helping people with minor ailments.
Despite people finding it more difficult to access their GP, the Healthwatch report did highlight good working relationships between practices in order to try and tackle issues.
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The majority of patients surveyed had a telephone call with a GP and more than 70 per cent of respondents said their experience was ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
Those who also had a phone or video call with their GP described the experience as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
“In terms of accessing practices, there is a bit of a variation between the 38 practices in Doncaster but we can’t hide behind the fact that this is an incredibly challenging time,” Dr Crichton said.
“We need to acknowledge the impact that Covid-19 has had – like we’ve had with the reduction in people coming forward with cancer.
“People are starting to return to practices but we have a backlog of care for the last 18 months that just hasn’t been met.
“On top of that, we’ve got the increasing consequences of mental health due to lockdowns which has resulted in more patients than we’ve seen before the pandemic.
“The NHS is really struggling to meet demand and it’s been mentioned about hospital waiting lists but you don’t really see that within GP surgeries because there is no recorded waiting list.”