Thousands of Black Country patients can’t see their GP

Thousands of people in the Black Country are unable to get an appointment when they phone their doctor - the worst rate in the UK.

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Around 25,000 people surveyed could not see their GP when required, with thousands more failing to get through to surgeries on the phone.

The situation is putting major pressure on overstretched A&E departments and walk-in centres.

One in seven Black Country patients can’t get an appointment with their GP, the survey revealed.

And almost one third – 11,870 patients – have difficulty even getting through to their GP surgery on the phone, again the most in England.

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Calls were today made to improve GP appointment services, with many patients facing ‘nightmare’ problems and being forced to look elsewhere for healthcare.

More people are resorting to visiting already overstretched A&E departments in hospitals, or non-emergency walk-in centres.

And thousands of people every day are struggling to get basic access to their local surgeries.

The damning statistics show the Black Country and Birmingham is often the worst area in the country for patients being able to access their GP.

As many as 31 per cent have to wait more than 15 minutes to be seen when they get into their doctor’s surgery, with only London seeing longer waits.

The statistics cover January to March and July to September last year and saw 49,041 patients surveyed.

The Department of Health’s GP patient survey found that 14 per cent of patients in the Black Country and Birmingham couldn’t get an appointment.

Thirteen per cent said reception staff weren’t helpful and a whopping 53 per cent couldn’t get an appointment for the day they wanted.

Staffordshire fares slightly better, with nine per cent of patients unable to get an appointment.

And 15 per cent had to wait a week or longer before they saw or spoke to a GP or nurse.

A patient support group expert said that the number one priority for patients in Staffordshire was sorting out GP appointments.

Jan Sensier, chief executive of Healthwatch Staffordshire, said some practices could be a ‘nightmare’.

She added: “We had people say routine appointments took up to a month to sort out.

“The problem is partially down to a lack of GPs. We’re using GPs now more than we ever did”

A patient support group expert said she was not surprised by the figures and that better ways must be found for people to book appointments.

Maxine Bygrave, chair of Healthwatch Wolverhampton, said: “Sadly this just reflects what patients have told us.

“They struggle to get appointments,” she added.

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Comments for: "Thousands of Black Country patients can’t see their GP"


I have found it a battle to get a doctor's appointment over the last three or four years. One instance I waited 20 days to see a specific doctor. Even asking for any doctor I can wait 10 days or more.

It is little wonder that A&E departments are overwhelmed with people resorting to going there because they can't get to see a doctor to relieve their suffering.

As with everything in this country we pay significant amounts of tax and get a third rate service. The French would be calling for national strikes if they were treated in this way - the British shrug their shoulders and say "what can you do".

I say this - Mr Cameron buck your ideas up before somebody dies.


erm , specsavers?


Our doctors surgery is working at full stretch with new migrant patients and their families being added to lists every day. The staff and doctors do their best but a three week wait for an appointment is not uncommon if one wishes to see a particular GP.

Reception staff have to answer the constantly ringing telephone and leave patients, many who don't speak English crowding round their hatch in an already overcrowded waiting room.

There are far too many immigrants who have never paid a penny into our system freely availing themselves of our NHS and they seem to take priority over us who have lived here all of our lives.

This is why I'll be voting UKIP at the next general election!

Mrs Ivy Trellis

Rubbish! Shortage of GP Appointments, and the (alleged) chaos in A&E (Sorry, but we now have to drop the word 'Accident'), has been 'Engineered' by Government via 'The Media!' The National Health Service in the UK is still the 'Envy of the World!' - However, our 'Cousins across the Pond' prefer to go in another direction, and are promoting this to the 52nd State! (Fifty States in the US, the 51st being 'The State of Denial' and the 52nd being the UK!)


15 minutes of arriving???? I'm lucky if i get seen within half an hour of the appointment time and my sons GP we can wait over 45 minutes!!! I had the first appointment of the day and I was still 25 minutes late going in!


As someone that actually works on the frontline (A&E) I can tell you that we are being stretched beyond breaking point constantly. There is no doubt in my mind that some surgeries could be more flexible perhaps working a system whereby they open at 0800 and close at 2200, it would mean having to work a rota system but would relieve some of the pressure on A&E departments. The system does need an overhaul in that there is no doubt but the public need to take some responsibility too. The ambulance service constantly attend calls that are little more than minor complaints ie Diarrhoea for the last couple of hours, use your local pharmacy they are excellent sources of advice as well as being able to offer many products that will be adequate for most minor ailments. Prevention is better than cure, when given a course of treatment complete the course don't stop half way through because the symptoms ease there is no such thing as the magic pill. If a person has chest pain shortness of breath haemorrhage seizures or is unconscious of course it's something that justifies use of the 999 service of course it's a medical emergency but most of the time the reason an ambulance may not get to you quickly enough is due to someone thinking their injured thumb justifies calling an ambulance. Everyone that turns up at A&E will be seen but coming by ambulance will not get you seen more quickly as we see people on a clinical basis. It seems to me these days there is a reluctance to take personal responsibility, if you have a chest condition smoking 20 a day is probably not a good idea, the answer is not more anti bioethics or nebuliser and it's certainly not "my GP is useless" either. I work flat out from the start of my shift until the end only stopping most days to grab a quick drink and a sandwich the interference at political level is a pain to say the least as politicians of all persuasions feel the need to fix the public services based solely on their political ideology but always claiming its because of the mess left by the last lot. It's your health service and a wonderful gift to all so I would implore everyone to use it wisely.


Sorry folks antibiotics not anti bioethics (my computer can't spell) lol


Well said Graham. And let's not forget the people who book appointments then never bother to cancel and simply don't turn up.

We should be grateful that we have a NHS at all but there are obviously cracks in the system.


GP surgeries and hospital A&E are overwhelmed. One reason is that many peaple abuse the system by attending for trivial reasons or for self-imposed reasons like drug addiction, drunkenness, self inflicted injuries/ attempted suicides injuries resulting from crime or resisting arrest.

All of this could be resolved by a payment of say £500 which can be immediately refunded if the trip is deemed necessary/ not self imposed. It would obviously need some thinking through but would be possible.

The health service is there for ordinary decent people, not for abusers of the service.


Sorry I do agree with Stanna and Aynuck, 30 years ago approx I remember being able to phone the little surgery at 4 pm and getting to see a doctor that day, you may have to wait till the end of surgery but you did see one. Since they have built this big health centre you got no chance unless you don't work and you can que to get one that day (mainly locums), I have always said they have had to take on too many patients to justify the place, and yes Aynuck the amount of immigrants there has exploded the last few years, ridiculous why I should have to lose time from work to get an appointment because the phones are jammed, and you can't book in advance, there should be appointments for people who do actually have a job !


I haven't been able to get a suitable appointment with a doctor for nearly 6 years. I don't even bother trying any more and go straight to the drop in centre.

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