**Government GP Crisis Hits Cumbrian Patients**

  • Copeland MP calls for Government to do more to support patients and GPs
  • More than 1 in 5 were unable to get an appointment or had to wait a week or more the last time they tried
  • Almost 1 in 10 unable to get an appointment at all the last time they tried
  • 6,000 people turned to other NHS services after being unable to get an appointment
  • Royal College of GPs calls on Government to ‘recruit, return and retain’ GPs to ease pressure

 

Background
 
The most recent GP Patient survey has been published showing the experiences of patients throughout England.  The survey is also broken down by Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas.  The survey shows that the experiences of patients in the Cumbrian CCG area have worsened compared with the data published in January 2015.1
 
Pressures on General Practice and the NHS as a whole are well publicised with the Government failing to match funding with the growing demand.
 
Commenting on research linking bureaucracy to GPs leaving the profession, the RCGP said: “the resources we have available to us have been decreasing and the number of family doctors has remained relatively stagnant…. In the longer term, we need the Government to invest in general practice…so that we can deliver the frontline care our patients need and deserve.”2
 
In November, the Chair of the RCGP, Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘general practice is on a knife edge, with GPs feeling that there is insufficient resourcing to deliver a five-day service, let alone a seven-day service.’3
 
About the GP Patient Survey
 
The survey is commissioned by NHS England and conducted by Ipsos MORI, an independent survey agency.  The results compiled through the survey are weighted to ‘more accurately reflect the views of the practice population’.  In 2012, the weighting scheme was adjusted to make the data better represent the views of the population as a whole.4 This means that by using the NHS estimate for the population of Cumbria, the survey results can be extrapolated to show how many people the findings represent.5
Patients are asked questions relating to the last time they tried to get a GP appointment and so any findings are not limited to the last 12 months, but are representative of patient experience – even if the patient is no longer registered with that GP.
 
Findings
 
Almost 1 in 10 people in Cumbria were unable to get an appointment at all the last time they tried
 
Everyone who completed the survey was asked: Last time you wanted to see or speak to a GP or nurse from your GP surgery, were you able to get an appointment to see or speak to someone?
The most recent survey shows that 8.73% of people in Cumbria were unable to get an appointment.  This means around 45,600 people in Cumbria were unable to get a GP appointment the last time they tried.  This has risen from 8.59% in the survey published in January 2015.
 
More than 1 in 5 were unable to get an appointment or had to wait a week or more the last time they tried
 
Analysis undertaken by Jamie Reed MP has shown that 13.78% of people had to wait a week or more to get an appointment to see or speak to their GP the last time they tried.  When taken with those who were unable to get an appointment at all, this represents 22.51% of people in Cumbria.  This has risen by almost 3% compared with the GP Patient Survey published in December 2013.
 
 
Percentage of people in Cumbria unable to get an appointment or had wait a week or more
January 2016
22.51%
January 2015
21.45%
December 2013
19.84%

Note: Date relates to the month the GP Patient Survey was published

The most recent GP Patient Survey shows that of those who were able to get an appointment, 15.69% waited a week or more.  Taking into account that only 87.83% of people got appointments, this represents 13.78% of the population.  When this 13.78% is combined with the 8.73% of people who couldn’t get an appointment at all, the findings show that 22.51% of people in Cumbria had to wait a week or more to see or speak to a GP or didn’t get to see one at all.  The survey also showed that around 6% of people wanted to see or speak to their GP a week or more later than when they last tried to make the appointment.
 
Thousands of people turning to other NHS services
 
The survey has revealed that as many as 6,000 people in Cumbria have turned to other NHS services (A&E, Pharmacy or other service) when unable to get a convenient appointment to see or speak to their GP.  This shows that pressures on General Practice are having an impact on other parts of the NHS, including the already over-stretched and under pressure A&E departments.
 
Percentage of people using other NHS services
Number of people using other NHS services (A&E, Pharmacy or other)
January 2016
1.18%
6,152

Note: Date relates to the month the GP Patient Survey was published

The survey asks those who couldn’t get an appointment (8.73%) and those who could get an appointment, but said it was inconvenient (5.04%) what they did on that occasion.  8.56% of these (or 1.18% of people in Cumbria) said they used either A&E, a pharmacy or another NHS services with most saying they turned to A&E.  This represents around 6,150 people in Cumbria.
 
In response to the analysis, Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
 
“Our family doctors are working incredibly hard in the face of rising demand and dwindling resources.  Patients rightly recognise the effort that GPs put in, but the Government’s inaction has meant that GPs are working with their hands tied behind their back.
 
“More patients are having to wait more than a week to see their GP and an increasing number are unable to get an appointment at all.  Thousands of people are turning to other NHS services increasing pressure on A&E and walk in centres.  Patient satisfaction with their GP is at similar levels to recent years showing that patients appreciate the effort that their GP is putting in to provide them with the service they need.
 
“Local commissioners and providers are doing all they can to ensure patients get access to their GPs as they need it, but the lack of support from Government is beginning to bite.  It is increasingly clear that it is patients that are paying the price for the Government’s mismanagement of our NHS.  It is now obvious that the Government must do more to support patients and GPs.”

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