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Recent analysis suggests patients will have to wait weeks for GP appointments, even if a Conservative government follows up on their promise to provide thousands of more general practitioners.
Although numbers have continued to dip, ministers have pledged to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 to help to control and reduce family doctor waiting times.
An analysis by Pulse researched the rising population figures and increase in demand for appointments, and stated that even if the doctors are found, they will not be enough to keep up with demand.
The Office for National Statistics predicts there will be nearly three million more people in England by the end of the next General Election and a recent Lancet study found that as the population ages, the average person will see a GP more often, now more than three times a year.
Without extra doctors, the average GP will need to spend 28.3 hours directly with patients to keep waiting times steady, but this figure does not include administration or appointment over-runs.
Theresa May has demanded GP surgeries stop closing during the week and offer Saturday and Sunday appointments, to ease the pressure on A&E.
However, a doctor has argued GPs were already working long hours and said “practices simply cannot offer enough appointments to patients to meet the growing need. The NHS is at breaking point and we need politicians of all parties to avoid ducking the serious challenges.”
Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said “family doctors were handling 60 million more appointments than five years ago and could not do more without risking patient safety.”
Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, has accepted that GPs have their “backs against the wall” and has promised to invest a £2.4 billion funding boost, alongside getting nurses to carry out more appointments to ease pressure on doctors.
Have you had to wait three weeks to see your GP? Let us know.
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