One in twenty patients in England wait at least four weeks before going to the GP, figures show

One in 20 patients are having to wait at least four weeks to see a GP, while funding for GP services is falling, NHS figures show.

In November 2023, 1.5 million GP appointments in England took place four weeks or more after being booked, 4.8% of the 31.9 million that month.

One in six appointments – 5.4 million, or 17.3% – required the patient to wait at least two weeks after booking before seeing a GP, practice nurse or other healthcare provider.

“Millions of people are sitting anxiously or waiting in pain because they cannot get an appointment with their GP,” said Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey, who highlighted the latest evidence underlining the long delays many patients face . see a doctor.

“Amazing” numbers of patients are now having to wait for a long time, he said.

GP leaders blamed the situation on widespread GP shortages, which they said made it impossible to keep up with rising demand for appointments. Burnout as a result of the high workload is causing more and more general practitioners to work part-time.

Prof. Kamila Hawthorne, President of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams have just had our busiest November on record, with more than 31 million appointments – up 30% on 2019, but down 646 completely qualified. full-time equivalent general practitioners.”

“The average number of patients per GP in England is now a whopping 2,290, meaning each GP is responsible for 147 more patients than in December 2019,” she said.

The latest data GP Access published by NHS Digital shows that almost 43% of November’s 31.9 million appointments took place on the day they were booked.

However, a growing number of patients have to wait at least four weeks. Other NHS figures shows that in November 2022, a total of 1.36 million appointments were also booked at least as far in advance, although the share of all consultations they represented – 4.8% – was the same as last November.

Research from the House of Commons Library has also found that rising inflation means GPs have experienced real cuts to their funding from NHS England in recent years, despite increasing demand for care caused by the aging and growing population. Covid and long Covid and other factors.

The analysis found that funding for general practice in 2022-2023 was 3.3% lower than in 2018-2019, and that funding for each patient had fallen by £12 on average over the same period, taking inflation into account. Of the NHS’s 44 integrated care areas, 42 have recorded a decline.

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The areas with the highest percentage decline for each patient include North West London, where funding was 16.8% or £28 per head lower; north-central London, down 14.4%; Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire fell by 11.2%; and Black Country and West Birmingham, down 10.3%.

Davey said: “It is inexcusable that the Conservative government has cut funding for GP practices at a time of rising demand. The Conservative party’s record on the NHS is one of complete neglect and failure. Rishi Sunak is completely out of touch with patients who are struggling to get the care they need.”

The Commons library analysis, commissioned by the Lib Dems, concluded: “In England, overall NHS payments to general practices have increased by a total of 10.5% over this period. However, when the effects of inflation are taken into account, this equates to a decline of 3.3% in real terms. The average payment per registered patient increased by 6.4% in cash terms and decreased by 6.9% in real terms.”

The This is reported by Health Service Journal Last week it emerged that the share of the NHS budget going to general practice had fallen by just 8.4% to the lowest level since 2015-16, even though GPs and their teams provide almost 90% of patient care.

The Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to the long wait for care, insisting that real funding for GPs had increased, despite the library’s finding to the contrary.

“We aim to improve access to GPs and now provide an additional 50 million GP appointments per year,” a spokesperson said. “The latest data shows that GP funding has increased by 19% in real terms between 2017 and 2022, and our Primary Care Recovery Plan is investing £645 million to expand pharmaceutical services and take pressure off GP practices to take.”