The Shepwayvox team spoke to three GPs from across the district and each of them said they and their colleagues were already “”seeing too many patients a day to be safe.”
Getting a GP appointment was your number one concern and more people emailed us about this one subject than any other.
GP Surgeries across Shepway and beyond have been struggling to keep waiting times down during the busy winter period, with some patients waiting two or three weeks for an appointment. And when one does get an appointment, the amount of time given has been reduced so that “we can get more through the doors and reduce the waiting times. The Prime Minster has now floated the idea that if we don’t give patients the appointment times they want, GP Practices will face funding cuts, which will only make things worse.”
The chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard has said waiting times could rise to three or four weeks and such delays may cause non-urgent conditions to become acute problems. Dr Stokes – Lampard, and the three GP’s we have spoken to are “profoundly concerned” about how general practice would cope over winter when there is allegedly a higher demand for NHS Services.
There are 114,459 patients registered at the 18 Surgeries in Shepway, according to the latest NHS figures published in Jan 2017. Central Surgery having the fewest number of patients. Dr Findlay & Partners at the top of Sandgate Hill have the greatest number of patients with 11,453.
We have spoken to three local doctors who asked for their names not to be mentioned. We asked them if patients with non-urgent needs would be forced to wait weeks to see their GP. “Most Certainly. It’s already taking some patients two to three weeks to get in to see a GP for non-urgent stuff, so by the time three to four weeks has passed, the non-urgent stuff may be becoming urgent.”
The three GP’s all mentioned a “chronic shortage of GPs” and “a crisis in recruitment and a reliance in some surgeries on locums.” All of them raised the issue of safety and said that the demand on general practice across the district is increasing and “the resources and workforce available to us are so lacking that individual GPs are currently seeing too many patients a day to be safe. And then at the end of a long day in clinic, we still have a mountain of paperwork to get through.”
This rightly concerned us and alarmed the GP’s themselves, but that’s how it is. It is not just here in Shepway these concerns have been raised.
Just a year ago (Feb 2016) GP’s were saying the quality of the service they provide had deteriorated in the last year.