Concerns over GP waiting times

File photo dated 10/09/14 of a GP at work, as family doctors should be able to access a Wikipedia-style information page so they can refer patients to social activities to help combat loneliness, a leading doctor has said.
File photo dated 10/09/14 of a GP at work, as family doctors should be able to access a Wikipedia-style information page so they can refer patients to social activities to help combat loneliness, a leading doctor has said.

Nearly one in six patients seeking an appointment with their family doctor in north Lincolnshire had to wait a week or more, a survey shows.

The Royal College of GPs said the findings were concerning, and that there is a risk of people not getting the treatment they need to prevent medical conditions becoming more serious.

Of the GP patients in the North Lincolnshire CCG who responded to the NHS’s annual GP Survey, 14 per cent had to wait a week or more to see a GP or nurse last time they booked an appointment. Five years ago, just 9 per cent had to wait that long.

In the area, the issue was most pronounced at the Kirton Lindsey and Scotter Surgery, where 37 per cent of patients had to wait a week or longer to see a GP or nurse. At the other end of the scale, only 3 per cent of patients faced a week’s delay at Ashby Turn Primary Care Partners, and 57 per cent were seen on the same day.

Last year, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to ensure all doctor’s surgeries would open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, unless they proved there was no demand.

The survey shows that only two thirds of patients in the North Lincolnshire CCG are happy with the appointment times available to them.

It means that 7 per cent of patients in the area ended up not accepting the last appointment they were offered .

Of those who did not take an appointment, 11 per cent went on to visit a hospital A&E – the service which extended GP hours are supposed to be taking the strain off.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Patients are still waiting too long for a GP appointment, and too many are not getting an appointment when they want one.

“As well as being frustrating for patients, and GPs, this is concerning as it means patients might not be getting the treatment they need in the early stages of their condition – and their conditions will potentially become more serious. The plain truth is that existing GPs and our teams are working to absolute capacity and we just don’t have enough GPs to offer enough appointments.”

The Royal College of GPs believe an extra £2.5bn a year on top of what has already been promised by NHS England is required to keep GP services working effectively, added Professor Stokes-Lampard.