Dr Yaso Browne DAUK GP lead: “No GP wants to feel like they go in to work to firefight and deal with more patient contacts than is safe to do so but this is reality for many.”
Eleven million patients have endured waits of more than three weeks to see a GP since Boris Johnson pledged to eradicate such delays, The Sunday Times has revealed.
In his first speech in Downing Street last July the prime minister said: “My job is to make sure you don’t have to wait three weeks to see your GP.”
However, in the four months for which figures are available since then, 11.3m patients have waited longer than three weeks. Of those, 5.6m waited more than a month.
The data emerged from The Sunday Times investigation lead by Andrew Gregory’s into waiting times as evidence mounts of a wider NHS crisis facing the prime minister.
The Sunday Times article outlined the investigation and covers The Doctors’ Association UK letter which was signed by over 2000 doctors, including 900 GPs, warning that the service is “on its knees”.
Speaking to The Sunday Times Dr Yaso Browne GP lead for The Doctors’ Association UK said:
“The waiting times and GP vacancies all speak of a crisis that has occurred as the Government refuse to acknowledge and deal with the reasons why.
Single handed practices have very little chance of surviving and there is a drive to have less continuity of care, which reduces demand and improves health outcomes, as primary care is financially forced to adopt Primary Care Networks i.e large scale working. GPs are doing the best they can for their patients within the terms and funding set by the Government.
No GP wants to feel like they go in to work to firefight and deal with more patient contacts than is safe to do so but this is reality for many. We are seeing more patients with higher more complex needs within 10 minute appointments and the reasons very broadly speaking reflect an inadequately prioritised health and social care system. There needs to be a commitment to appropriately fund primary care needs including allied work force such as district nurses and health visitors. Without this it will come as no surprise that the government will again fail at their pledge of increasing GP numbers to what is needed. It is not appropriate to focus our attention simply on the rates of patients who ‘do not attend’ appointments as we know often it is by those with vulnerabilities such as reduced social capita or mental illness. We need to focus on why there is a crisis and not its symptoms.”