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Rising patient numbers threaten to overwhelm GPs

Rising numbers of patients needing care and a shortage of GPs is threatening to overwhelm the system, doctors and patient groups are warning.

It comes after the pandemic has caused severe disruption to GP practices for more than a year.

Analysis of NHS England data by the Health Foundation found more than 28 million appointments were booked in March, among the highest recorded.

Doctor's leaders say what they are being asked to achieve is "undoable".

The analysis of NHS data in England carried out by the Health Foundation for the BBC also that that between 2019-20 and 2020-21:

  • The total number of appointments dropped by 10% - meaning 31 million fewer consultations with GPs and practice nurses
  • Major shift from face-to-face to remote consultation, with the proportion seen in practices dropping from 79% to 54%
  • The number of patients referred by GPs for urgent cancer check-ups dropped by 15%, putting lives at risk

The escalating situation has prompted patient groups to call for an urgent review of access to services, amid reports that patients are struggling to get through.

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Source: BBC News, 27 May 2021


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