British health care: Patients waited more than a week for 47m visits in 2013

British health care: Patients waited more than a week for 47m visits in 2013

[Ed. – Gotta shout.]

Patients waited more than a week to see their GP on almost 50 million occasions last year, according to figures that illustrate the delays people face when accessing basic NHS care.

An analysis by the Royal College of GPs found that 47 million GP appointments in 2013 – one in six of all consultations – involved a wait of at least seven days to see a doctor or nurse.

In 2012, the figure was 40 million – suggesting a rise of 17 per cent, year on year. If the trend continues, projections suggest that next year 57 million GP appointments will involve a wait of a week or more.

Senior doctors last night warned GPs were buckling under the demands of an ageing population, and that too often only those who “shouted the loudest” were able to secure help quickly. Experts said some patients were forced to wait even longer than a week, with delays of up to a month for appointments at some surgeries. …

Last night, the Royal College also released the results of a poll which found that eight out of 10 GPs fear missing a serious illness because of their heavy workload. …

Labour argues that the rise in waiting times has been caused by the Government’s decision to scrap a target which promised patients a GP appointment within 48 hours.

The 48-hour rule was scrapped in June 2010, as part of Coalition efforts to dismantle a “target culture” in the NHS. It was among many waiting targets which had become contentious because of concerns that seriously ill patients were having care delayed because trivial cases had to be seen just as quickly.

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