GP surgeries 'far worse' than before pandemic as survey reveals patient's struggles

Let down and worried about the future – that’s the verdict of Express & Star readers on GP services in the region.

Face-to-face appointments are slowly increasing, but remain way down on levels before the pandemic struck
Face-to-face appointments are slowly increasing, but remain way down on levels before the pandemic struck

Eighty per cent of patients feel GP services are far worse now than before the pandemic – and around half say they are suffering “major difficulties” getting an appointment.

More than 4,000 took part in the Express & Star survey.

It found:

  • A total of 92 per cent have faced some difficulty in getting an appointment

  • Nearly seven in 10 do not feel help is on hand if needed

  • More than 90 per cent of people fear GP services will get worse in future.

Two thirds also revealed they had been forced to seek help elsewhere, such as NHS 111, A&E or a walk-in centre, because their GP had been unavailable.

Dr Mary McCarthy, of the British Medical Association in the West Midlands, today said the results were “incredibly concerning” and “reflect the fact that GP practices went into this pandemic understaffed and under-resourced”.

The Express & Star survey reflects a concern nationally over GP services and difficulties in returning to some kind of normality after Covid measures were relaxed.

The results of the Express & Star GP survey
The results of the Express & Star GP survey
The results of the Express & Star GP survey
The results of the Express & Star GP survey
The results of the Express & Star GP survey

A recent report reveals that fewer than 60 per cent of GP appointments in England were conducted face-to-face over August. That compares to 80 per cent in August 2019 – but also shows a rise from 52 per cent in August last year.

The proportion of telephone consultations also rose from 14 per cent in August 2019 to 38 per cent last month.

Health Secretary Savid Javid has urged GPs to get back to face-to face appointments.

But Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, says it is unfair to criticise doctors who are facing an “intense workload”.

He said “huge numbers of GP appointments are being made every day and called for a “blended approach”.

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