Five million people were unable to book a GP appointment in October, analysis of NHS data suggests.
The Labour party, which studied figures from the GP Patient Survey, warned the struggle to see a doctor will mean many patients will not have serious medical conditions diagnosed until it is “too late”.
According to the survey, some 13.8% of patients, or around one in seven, did not get an appointment the last time they tried to book one.
With almost 32 million GP appointments reported in England in October, the party said it means that more than 5 million people could have been unable to book a GP appointment when they tried to make one that month.
October saw GP surgeries carry out the highest number of appointments since records began in 2017, despite a depleted work force.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told Labour List: “Patients are finding it impossible to get a GP appointment when they need one. I’m really worried that among those millions of patients unable to get an appointment, there could be serious conditions going undiagnosed until it’s too late".
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said in a statement: “GPs and their teams are working flat out to deliver the care and services our patients need. GPs want our patients to receive timely and appropriate care, and we share their frustrations when this isn’t happening. But difficulties accessing our services isn’t the fault of GP teams, it’s a consequence of an under-resourced, underfunded, and understaffed service working under unsustainable pressures.”
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Source: The Independent, 6 December 2022