Thousands of people a month are waiting more than four weeks for a face-to-face appointment with a GP in Gloucestershire, according to NHS figures.
Data from NHS England shows that, in January, one in 14 patients faced a so-called ‘mega wait’ in surgeries in the NHS Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group (CCG).
A total of 7,735 saw a gap of more than 28 days between making an appointment and actually seeing the doctor.
They made up seven per cent of all appointments – up from 3.8 per cent in January 2018.
The county’s CCG said that evidence from studies shows “workloads in GPs are increasing”.
Of the 110,312 face-to-face GP appointments in Gloucestershire this January, 42,811 – or 38.8 per cent – were emergencies seen on the same day they booked. Some 7,376 were seen a day later.
A further 20,861 waited between two and seven days after they booked, 15,112 between eight and 14 days, 9,172 between 15 and 21 days, and 7,200 between 22 to 28 days.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GP committee chair at the British Medical Association, said: “This data, while only providing a limited snapshot of the total work that GPs do, provides clear evidence of the rising workload pressure practices are under.
“We are providing a million more appointments each month, yet with hundreds fewer GPs.”
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Dr Vautrey added: “What these figures do not account for is the vast range of other activities GPs complete in their day-to-day work – including training, meetings and paperwork, which add significantly to their workload.
“The majority of evening and weekend appointments will also not have been included, as well as some home visits and telephone triage calls.”
The situation in Gloucestershire mirrors the situation across England as a whole.
Nationally, a total of 397,413 people waited more than 28 days for a face-to-face appointment with a GP.
That represents 3.7 per cent of all patients who had a face-to-face GP appointment during the month – up from 2.3 per cent the previous January.
The total number of face-to-face GP appointments rose from 9.6 million to 10.8 million over the same period.
What the CCG says
A spokeswoman for NHS Gloucestershire CCG said: “Whilst helpful, this data is relatively new and as stated by NHS Digital it presents a limited and incomplete view of GP workloads in Gloucestershire.
“However, other evidence, such as studies undertaken by the Kings Fund, suggests that workloads in general practice are increasing.
“To alleviate this, the county’s GP practices are working more closely together in local geographical areas and are embracing new ways of working to become more resilient in managing the growing demands on their services.
“For example, clinical pharmacists are working with most of Gloucestershire’s practices to support prescribing and medication-related issues.
“Paramedics are also working with some GP practices to carry out home visits in the community whilst physiotherapists and mental health practitioners are working in other areas.
“These health professionals often work across practices providing clinics and extra appointments. Patients are signposted to the most appropriate health professional, relieving pressure on GP appointments.
“More than 100,000 additional GP surgery appointments are also being made available this year in the daytime, evening and weekends through ‘Improved Access’.”
An NHS England spokesman said: “Around half of all GP appointments are booked and taken on the same day, or within 24 hours.
“There is greater access to GPs now than ever before, with weekend and evening appointments across the country, and an extra £4.5billion investment in primary care through our long-term plan, with primary care networks helping to free up extra resource for GP services in every community.”
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