Phoning you Doctor’s surgery to book an appointment often leads to frustration. The line is engaged, you are on hold for what seems like forever and when you finally get through there are no appointments available, or the next available appointment is in a fortnight or more.
Waiting times for a routine GP appointment in Kent & Medway shows a 0.3% increase according to the latest NHS Digitial data. This means 122,097 patients were waiting more than two weeks to obtain a GP appointment in Dec 2019.
Despite the best efforts of all Kent & Medway CCGs; and all 210 GP practices, the numbers of those waiting more than two weeks or more for a GP appointment in Kent or Medway continues to creep ever upwards.
In Dec 2018 there were 84,624 GP patients in Kent & Medway waiting more than two weeks to get a GP appointment. That is almost one in five patients (18.04%)
According to the latest NHS Digital data – Dec 2019, 122,097 GP patients in Kent & Medway were waiting more than two weeks to get a GP appointment. That is almost one in five patients (18.34%).
So there has been a a point 3 increase in patients waiting more than two weeks for a GP appointment in Kent & Medway.
In Dec 2018 there were 469,026 appointments available. In Dec 2019 that number rose to 665,693, or by 42%. But even with an increase in appointment therecame an increase in those waiting more than two weeks for a GP appointment. This is despite the fact that the number of GPs in Kent & Medway rose from 1,200 in Dec 2018 to 1,267 in Dec 2019.
The Dec 2019 data – shows there were 1,705,912 patients registered at 210 GP Practices in Kent & Medway compared to 1,901,114 in Dec 2018. So less registered patients, more doctors, more appointments has led to a 0.3% increase in those waiting more than two weeks for a GP appointment.
Dartford, Gravesham & Swanley CCG saw the largest jump in waiting times for more than 14 days. In 2018, only 7.55% of patients (224) waited more than 14 days for a GP appointment. One year on and that percentage had increased to 18.02% or 10,563 patients waiting more than 14 days for an appointment.
The most significant decrease was seen in the Swale CCG where the number of patients waiting more than 14 days to see their GP fell from 22.97% or 8,957 to 19.75%. or 8,301.
South Kent Coast CCG – which covers the Folkestone & Hythe and Dover District areas – saw less than 1% decrease in patients waiting more than 14 days for a GP appointment. In Dec 2018, 38,494 appointments were available, of these 18.56% or 7,145 patients were waiting more than 14 days for an appointment. In 2019 however, the number of appointments more than doubled to 78,614, of these 17.71% or 13,923 patients were waiting more than 14 days for an appointment.
So across the Folkestone & Hythe area we called up some GP surgeries to see when we might be able to get an appointment.
As of yesterday, 4th March 2020, if one wanted an Non Urgent Appointment (NUA) with a GP at Sandgate Rd Surgery, Folkestone – which has the highest number of patients in the district 12,697 – one will have to wait until mid May for an appointment.
The Orchard Surgery in Lydd – earliest NUA with GP is 13th March
Oaklands Surgery, Hythe – earliest NUA with GP is 18th March
Sellindge Surgery – earliest NUA with GP is 20th March
Oak Hall, New Romney – earliest NUA with GP is 23rd March
Manor Clinic Folkestone – earliest NUA with GP is 26th March
Hawkinge & Elham Surgery – Hawkinge earliest NUA with GP is 1st April.
White House Surgery, Cheriton – no NUA available
Of course one can always phone on the day to see if one can get an appointment with one’s GP.
What with the closure of Park Farm Surgery as of the 31st March 2020; and the likelihood of further closures of Folkestone & Hythe GP Surgeries, waiting times for GP appointments beyond 14 days in the district and the rest of Kent may well show another rise when NHS Digitial publish more data at the end of this month.
It is not just Folkestone & Hythe where there is a GP crisis. Kent & Medway as a whole is in the grip of one, and the data is showing things are slowly getting worse rather than better.
Please do let us know what you are experiencing in your district regarding waiting times to see a GP as the data cannot and does not tell the whole story. You can make a comment or drop us an email at – shepwayvox[at]riseup[dot]net
The Shepwayvox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent