Patients face battle to see GPs as one in four cannot even get an appointment, new data shows
- Delays leaving people in pain, unable to work and with destroyed relationships
- Britons report having difficulty contacting their GP and not being seen in person
A damning official report today lays bare the struggles patients face accessing the NHS – with one in four unable to see a GP and one in five waiting for care.
The delays are leaving many in crippling pain, destroying relationships and forcing some to quit work, warns the Office for National Statistics.
Britons also report having difficulty contacting their GP surgery or being offered only a telephone consultation when they want to be seen in person.
Those who secure a referral for scans or treatment can then wait over a year to get the diagnosis or relief they need, the figures show. Most are getting worse as they wait.
The delays are leaving many in crippling pain, destroying relationships and forcing some to quit work, warns the Office for National Statistics. Britons also report having difficulty contacting their GP surgery or being offered only a telephone consultation when they want to be seen in person
Last night patient groups described the findings as ‘concerning’ and revealed they have been pleading with ministers for urgent improvements.
The survey reveals 23 per cent of adults who needed to see a GP last month could not get an appointment.
Some 30 per cent had difficulty contacting their practice while 39 per cent were only offered a telephone consultation.
Only one in three who made an appointment found it ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ while over half (52 per cent) found it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’.
Others could not see their preferred GP, were offered inconvenient times or told to seek care elsewhere.
The findings come amid a winter health crisis with 7.2million on waiting lists plus ambulances and A&Es missing targets.
Strikes have also led to 88,000 NHS appointments being delayed.
In the ONS survey, one in five said they were waiting for a hospital appointment, test or to start receiving NHS treatment.
This was having a ‘negative impact’ on their lives said 72 per cent and 56 per cent said their condition was getting worse.
Among working adults waiting for treatment, 39 per cent said their job was affected, with some cutting hours or going on sick leave.
Louise Ansari, of Healthwatch England, said: ‘These findings are concerning and reflect what people are telling us.
‘GP services are often the first port of call so the lack of easy access puts people’s health and wellbeing at risk.’
Rachel Power, of the Patients Association, said it has suggested ‘practical solutions’ to ministers, such as emergency funding for GP practices to install more phone lines and pay for staff to answer calls.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said cutting red tape would give family doctors more time to see their patients.
A Department of Health spokesman said there were almost 90,000 more GP appointments each working day in 2022 compared to 2021.
He added the number of GPs had risen by almost 500 in 2022 compared to 2021.
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