Survey reveals patients facing long waits to see their GP

Nearly a quarter of patients seeking an appointment with their family doctor in west Lincolnshire had to wait a week or more, a survey shows.

Patients are being forced to wait longer to see their GP. Photo: PA/Anthony Devlin

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 Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)– which includes Gainsborough – who responded to the NHS’s annual GP Survey, 24 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 13 per cent had to wait that long.

Last year, the 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 fewer than two-thirds of patients in the Lincolnshire West CCG are happy with the appointment times available to them.

It means that seven 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, three per cent went on to visit a hospital A&E – the service which extended GP hours are supposed to be taking the strain off.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman 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.

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP has identified workforce and prevention as two of his top priorities – if he is serious about tackling the GP workforce crisis, and keeping patients out of hospital where care is far costlier, it is essential that the Government invests properly in general practice.”

The Royal College of GPs believe an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of what has already been promised by NHS England is required to keep GP services working effectively.”