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Covid restrictions have 'closed door' on NHS appointments

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Patients are finding it increasingly hard to see their GPs, with warnings that pandemic restrictions have too often “closed the door” on NHS treatment, a report warns. 

The Patients’ Association survey comes as an investigation reveals that almost 100 GP surgeries closed down or merged with other practices last year.

In total, almost 2.5 million patients were forced to switch to a new surgery because of 788 such closures since 2013, the freedom of information disclosures reveal .

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said the findings from its survey were “worrying” and show “clear dissatisfaction” from the public.

The report said: “It is increasingly clear that many patients have found that new methods for arranging appointments do not work for them, or simply that they do not understand how to go about it. GPs are the front door to the NHS, and patients are increasingly perceiving that that door is closed to them.”

Roughly half of those who had telephone consultations said the experience was worse than a traditional appointment, with three times as many saying they were unhappy about their experience, compared with those offering praise. 

The report warns: “The data does not show a ringing endorsement of new or remote methods for accessing NHS care; indeed, in most cases patients rated these methods worse than traditional contact.”

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Source: The Telegraph, 30 April 2021

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