Patients 'Visit A&E Due To Lack Of GPs'

Patients Are Turning Up To A&E Units Because They Can't Get Doctors' Appointments


Patients are increasingly turning up to A&E units because they can't get an appointment to see their GP, new research suggests.

The study, which was conducted by Imperial College London and seen by the Daily Telegraph, found that 5.77 million patients attended their local accident ward because they could not get an appointment to see their family doctor.

This makes up 26.5 per cent of all unplanned casualty attendances and is putting increased pressure on hospitals already balancing austerity cuts with an increasing number of patients.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the British Medical Association's GP committee, said that GPs are working "flat out" to tend to patients, but that many are seeing up to 60 patients a day, which causes stress and other issues.

"There are not enough GPs and other staff available to treat the sheer number of people coming through the surgery door," Dr Vautrey stated.

"However, given the unsustainable strain on GP services, it is understandable that patients are becoming frustrated at the number of appointments available, something that GPs are just as concerned about."

In response to these concerns, ministers have announced plans to train 3,250 GPs a year from 2015 forward, although doubts have been raised about whether this is possible due to low take up among candidates.

Figures released by the government show just 2,630 trainee doctors were brought onto the NHS in the last 12 months - the lowest such number in five years.

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "Under David Cameron, it has got harder and harder to get a GP appointment and that is forcing record numbers through the doors of A&E."

However, the government believes cuts are necessary to ensure the NHS remains financially solvent.

The director of commissioning policy and primary care at NHS England, Ben Dyson, said the NHS amount spent on GPs services has risen by 33 per cent since 2002-03.

Expert Opinion
The amount of people seeking medical attention at their local A&E department rather than their GP is staggering and action needs to be taken to ensure the healthcare system functions in a manner which always puts patient safety first.

“Unfortunately injury and illness don’t always happen at convenient times and all of those involved in healthcare need to ensure they are best prepared to deal with calls and enquiries at all times.

“Patient health and wellbeing must remain at the number one priority for all medical professionals across the NHS and each facility should be adequately equipped and staffed to support the number of patients seeking help and advice.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner