More than half of patients are waiting two days to be seen
Patients are having to wait more than 48 hours to see a GP and often take time off work when they do because appointments are hard to get and at inconvenient times, a new report warns.
Research by the Patients Association also reveals deep dissatisfaction with out-of-hours care and widespread concern that weekend and overnight services may not deal with an urgent problem properly.
Six in 10 people who took part in a survey (60.5%) said they could not get to see a GP for at least two days, while 83.8% had to wait for more than 24 hours.
A report, called Primary Care: Access Denied?, based on 3,076 responses to three separate surveys, also found that 79.2% of participants either would not feel safe, or did not know if they would, relying on NHS out-of-hours services if they had a potentially urgent medical problem. Over half (54.8%) were not satisfied with their experience of out-of-hours care in the previous two years, and over two-thirds would not feel confident using walk-in centres or the NHS Direct telephone advice line.
The Patients Association's findings showed that GPs were failing to provide services that suited the needs of patients, including those with busy lives and different working patterns. Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of Patients Association, said; "The difficulty of getting or attending an appointment is creating a system plagued by avoidable delays." She demanded faster access and urged GP surgeries to adjust their opening hours. "The traditional nine-to-five mentality and structure can no longer be held sacrosanct. Disease and health require constant vigilance and action to address and are not restricted to daylight hours, from Monday to Friday," she said.....Read more