26th January 2015
Thousands turning to A&E because they can’t get a GP appointment in Cumbria: MP calls for government help in GP recruitment drive
Copeland MP and Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed has written to the Department of Health to seek assistance with the recruitment of GPs to Cumbria.
Official NHS Data has revealed that around 4,000 patients in Cumbria went to A&E because they couldn’t get a convenient appointment with their GP the last time they tried – up by 10% in the last six months. The latest NHS GP-Patient Survey has also revealed that 43,400 people in Cumbria were unable to get a GP appointment at all, the last time they tried.
Of those who could get an appointment, 1 in 7 had to wait a week or more to see their GP despite the vast majority of people wanting to see or speak to someone within a few days.
Figures released by the NHS show that major A&E departments at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust are under intense pressure, with more than 3,500 people waiting more than 4 hours to be seen in the last six months.
Under the coalition Government, it is getting harder to secure a GP appointment. Cuts to adult social care have meant that demand on primary care has increased greatly in the last few years. GP Practices are becoming overwhelmed and patients are now having to turn to A&E as a result.
Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed MP said:
“Local GPs are working around the clock, going above and beyond the call of duty and running the risk of burning themselves out. This is bad for them and bad for patients, and the issue of GP recruitment in Cumbria is now approaching crisis point. The Government’s damaging NHS reorganisation has made it harder for people to get a GP appointment and it has left people having to turn to already overstretched A&E departments. This Government has also heaped additional pressure upon primary care and the system is creaking as a result.
“This is having a major effect upon our hospitals in Cumbria, with thousands having to wait more than 4 hours in A&E.
“This is a crisis of the Government’s making, and both patients and medical professionals are feeling the brunt. Plunging the NHS into a chaotic reorganisation at a time when the Government should have been addressing increasing demand was a mistake the Government was warned not to make. To ease pressure on the NHS in England, Labour has committed to investing an extra £2.5 billion each year – over and above the Tories – to recruit 8,000 more GPs and 20,000 nurses. In Cumbria, additional GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are sorely needed – they only way we can meet demand and deliver effective hospital services is to significantly improve the number of medics in primary care. In the short term, this means immediate recruitment. In the middle to long term, it means ‘growing our own’ and developing alternative career paths for medics who want to specialise in delivering world-class care to areas such as Cumbria.
“Right now, recruitment pressures in Cumbria means that these extra staff are desperately needed to ensure patients can get timely access to quality services.”