Nearly a third of patients (29%) find it difficult to contact their GP practice, new data has revealed.
And, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than half (52%) of people who made an appointment in the last month reported that doing so was difficult or very difficult.
A further 22% reported not being able to get a GP appointment at all.
And one-in-five (20%) adults reported managing their condition themselves because of barriers they experienced when making a GP appointment.
It comes after NHS England’s primary care director warned that practices need to find ways to prevent the morning ‘eight o’clock rush’ of calls from patients who struggle to get through to the surgery.
The latest NHS data, however, shows that GP practices in England delivered a record 36 million appointments in October.
It is the highest number since NHS Digital began publishing the number of appointments, including Covid jabs, in December 2020.
The ONS’ survey – published this week – marks the first in a series of monthly insights into how the increasing cost-of-living and difficulty accessing NHS services are impacting people’s lives and wellbeing.
The survey also assessed the worsening impact of the elective care waiting list, which currently stands at 7 million people.
Around a third (34%) of adults currently waiting to start NHS treatment reported that the wait has had a strong negative impact on their life.
When asked whether they had paid for private medical care in the past year because they felt the wait for NHS treatment was too long, around one-in-eight (13%) adults said they had, with 7% paying for it themselves.