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The number of patients waiting three weeks or longer to see a GP reaches 3 million, while patient satisfaction reaches record lows.



In shocking data released by the NHS, it has been revealed that more than 3 million patients in England are having to wait at least three weeks to see their GP. This crisis is exacerbated by the fact that GP satisfaction has reached its lowest level ever recorded. The delays, caused by a shortage of GPs, are putting patients at risk of having serious illnesses diagnosed late or missed entirely. The figures show that almost half of appointments took place on the same day, while one in ten had to wait almost a month for an appointment.

The data also highlights that GPs are under immense pressure, with many seeing up to 90 appointments per day, compared to the recommended 25 appointments per day to ensure safe care. Despite the population increasing by around 2 million over the past few years, there were just over 27,600 fully-qualified full-time equivalent GPs working in England in April. This is almost 2,000 fewer GPs than in 2016, further exacerbating the strain on the healthcare system.

In response to the crisis, NHS England is implementing measures to improve access to GP services. Every GP practice is upgrading its telephone systems to make it easier for patients to contact their surgery. Patients can also use the NHS app to order repeat prescriptions and view test results, reducing the need to contact their family doctor. Despite these efforts, GP patient satisfaction has plummeted to its lowest level on record, signaling the urgent need for more resources and support for GPs.

Patients have expressed frustration over access to in-person appointments, with GPs facing increasing pressures due to the rising and aging population, lack of government funding, and a shortage of doctors. A referendum of family doctors conducted by the British Medical Association found that 99% of respondents rejected the new NHS contract, indicating deep dissatisfaction within the profession. The government’s failure to meet promises to recruit more GPs and the increasing levels of harassment, assaults, and verbal abuse targeting GP staff further compound the crisis.

Looking ahead, the ONS projects that an additional 7,076 family doctor positions will be required over the next 12 years to meet the growing demand for healthcare services. With the population expected to reach 62.2 million by 2036, the ratio of patients per GP must be reduced to ensure safe and timely care for all. It is crucial for the government to prioritize the recruitment and retention of GPs, address the underlying issues causing the crisis, and provide the necessary resources and support to ensure the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals.

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