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'Millions' unable to get GP appointments

'Millions' unable to get GP appointments


As many as 1.88 million people in the last year alone have visited A&E because they couldn’t get a GP appointment, a survey suggests. 

The online survey of over 2,000 British adults, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Network Locum, found more than a third (34%) of people who asked for an appointment as soon as possible had to wait for over 48 hours to be seen and 4% admitted going to A&E as they weren’t able to get a GP appointment in the last 12 months. 

With the average A&E visit costing the NHS £88, this desperate measure may have unnecessarily cost the NHS as much as £120 million in a single year.

The survey findings also suggest that the lack of GP appointments could put people off visiting their local doctor altogether, particularly women. 

 - Just over one in six (18%) female respondents put off booking an appointment because they were worried that they would be wasting their GP’s time.

 - A quarter of women (25%) also admitted that they had stored up a number of concerns to discuss in one GP visit.

 - Just over one in 10 people (13%) ‘self-diagnosed’ and bought available medication in a pharmacy because they could not get a doctor’s appointment.

Anita Nathan, a practising GP in London, said: “I am concerned that so many people are putting off seeing their GP and would urge them to make best use of consultations to serve their needs. It can be difficult to be thorough when faced with a number of concerns in one appointment. It is important to acknowledge them and find a way of prioritising them in order of concern in the first consultation, get to know the patient and work through their problems over a few appointments where possible. 

“However, we need to make sure patients feel comfortable approaching their GP practices and doctors so we don’t miss any potentially significant diagnoses. Putting an end to non-essential paperwork and admin errors such as refaxing a referral form that can take up to 10% of a typical GP day, could free up valuable time to reach the people who need us most.”


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