Quarter of patients wait over a week for GP appointment, statistics reveal

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 September 2018

Patients are facing longer waiting times to see their family doctor. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Patients are facing longer waiting times to see their family doctor. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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People are waiting up to a week to see their GP, figures show.

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Of the patients from the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) area who responded to the NHS’s annual GP survey, 27 per cent waited a week or more to see a GP or a nurse last time they booked an appointment.

Five years ago, just 16 per cent had to wait that long.

Dr John Heather from New Court Surgery in Locking Road, who leads the Weston and Worle locality group, a partnership of surgeries, said: “There are a number of reasons for GP waiting times rising, there is no magic bullet.

“In Weston and Worle we have a very large number of increasingly frail people and a large number of care homes.

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“In England we have an ageing population, there is an expectation of what you can do for the patient and this need is growing all the time as people are living longer and their health deteriorates.”

Dr Heather said 50 per cent of job vacancies are unfilled after a year. Weston and Worle is also in danger of losing GPs to retirement as half the GPs in the locality are more than 55 years old.

He added: “Young doctors are very sparse and people are looking to work as a locum instead of in a partnership.

“The more attractive places to work are near universities or in cities like Bristol.”

Dr Heather has urged people to stick with their own doctors to ensure care standards are upheld.

He added: “When you see your family doctors, they know you, have access to your records and can prescribe the best care. Locums will put in a lot more investigations as they are seeing you for the first time.”

Weston surgeries will use a £400,000 Government grant to try to improve recruitment and workloads.

A BNSSG CCG spokesman said: “The CCG is working closely with practices to reduce waiting times and in particular, practices in Weston are working with us on a pilot project which is looking at how patients can be seen quickly by the right person.”

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