Date Published: 29 Sep 2014
Waiting times to see a GP now a ‘national crisis’
Half of Britons (53%) think that waiting times to see a GP are now a ‘national crisis’ – as latest predictions from the Royal College of General Practitioners show that on 60m occasions over the next year, patients will have to wait a week or longer to see their GP or practice nurse.
According to the latest poll commissioned by the College and conducted by ComRes, two thirds of the British public (65%) worry that GP workloads, with some GPs seeing 40-60 patients a day, are a threat to the standard of care GPs can provide to their patients.
And only 23% think that there are enough GPs to deal with Britain’s changing and growing population, with more people living longer and with long term illnesses.
The results of the poll coincide with startling new predictions from the College which show that there will be a mammoth 60 million occasions in 2014 when patients will not be able to get an appointment with their GP or practice nurse within the same week.
The predictions are based on the RCGP’s latest analysis of the GP Patient Survey, published in July, in which patients were asked whether they were able to get an appointment to see or speak to someone in general practice.
The RCGP says that the number of patients failing to see a GP at all will continue to increase – due to the ongoing cuts in funding for general practice, allied to rapidly growing demand.
Over 90% of patient contacts within the NHS are managed within general practice – yet funding has fallen to an all-time low of only 8.39% of the overall budget in 2012/13.
In 2005/06, 10.95% of the NHS budget in England was spent on general practice. However, by 2011/12, just 8.5% of the NHS budget in England was spent on general practice – with a cumulative loss of £9.1bn since 2004/05 in real terms.
Despite this, general practice has increased efficiency to such an extent that an estimated 40m additional patients per year are being treated by family doctors and practice nurses than was the case even five years ago, and the average number of consultations carried out by each GP in England per year has increased from 9,264 in 2008 to 10,714.
ComRes interviewed 1,001 GB adults by telephone between 29th and 31st August 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.