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Lib Dems Come Up With Proposals to Reduce GP Appointment Waiting Times

Published on: 13 Nov, 2022
Updated on: 14 Nov, 2022

By Martin Giles

91,177 patients in Surrey covered by the Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care Board), waited more than two weeks for a GP appointment in September.

This made up 19 per cent of all GP appointments that month, a steep increase from 13 per cent in January this year. Surrey is roughly halfway in a table showing the comparative GP wait times across the country.

Surrey’s Liberal Democrats said the “alarming figures” show that patients in Surrey are being let down. At national level, their party has set out plans, set out by Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey, for patients to have a right to see their GP within a week, or within 24 hours if in urgent need.

The policy would enshrine this right in the NHS Constitution, putting a duty on the government and health service to make sure it happens. It would be achieved by increasing the number of GPs, fixing pension rules to prevent so many doctors retiring early, and increasing the number of nurses and pharmacists fully qualified to prescribe day-to-day medicines.

Cllr Will Forster

Will Forster, Lib Dems group leader on Surrey County Council said: “These alarming figures show our local health service is being driven into the ground under this Conservative government.

“Behind these statistics are so many people and families in Surrey anxiously waiting for an appointment for worrying symptoms. Many are being seen far too late.

“I am proud that Liberal Democrats have put forward a credible plan to ensure everyone is seen by a GP within one week. It should be implemented with urgency to save our local health service and finally give people in Surrey a fair deal.

“Every day the government’s promises become more and more hollow. The sad truth is they’re disinterested in our NHS and refuse to take action to pull it back from the brink. People here in Surrey will pay the price if this government continues to take us for granted and sit on their hands”.

The Surrey Heartlands NHS area covers most of Surrey and the majority of Guildford borough (excluded are patients living in parts of Surrey Heath Borough and Farnham).

Professor Claire Fuller, the chief executive of Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership and a local GP pointed out that while nearly 20 percent had to wait 80 percent still got their appointments within two weeks and the number of appointments had increased significantly over the last 12 months.

Professor Claire Fuller

She said: “Between July 2021 and July 2022 Surrey Heartlands practices offered more than 5.3 million appointments – an increase of nearly 8 per cent on the previous year.

“The latest data for September shows that the majority of patients – 377,966 people, which is more than 80 per cent of patients – were seen within two weeks and of these, 190,618 people (just over 50%), were seen on the same day.

“Sometimes it is clinically appropriate to book follow-up appointments a number of weeks in advance and this will be reflected in the data. GP practices are committed to seeing people as quickly as they can but practices do vary because of geography and the population they serve so there will be some variation in how they work to respond to local needs.

“A great deal of work is already underway to help make it easier for people to access the support they need. This includes expanding the primary care team to include more pharmacists, paramedics and physiotherapists and we’re also working with practices to make practical improvements to their phone systems and websites so it’s easier for patients to get in touch and get the help they need.

“Although GP practices are busy, help is always available so if people need an appointment or need advice, we would encourage them to contact their practice – and there are many ways they can get in touch, including through new online services.”

But delayed appointments might be one factor in the decrease in early-stage cancer diagnoses which fell by a third in the first lockdown and prostate cancer diagnoses fell by a worrying 29 per cent between 2019 and 2020.

The troublesome statistics were publicised by the Movember campaign which aims to increase men’s awareness of testicular and prostate cancer in particular.

Andrew Chetwood, urologist

Andrew Chetwood, consultant urologist at Mount Alvernia and Frimley Park Hospitals, said: “Globally 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Sadly, thousands of those men are from Surrey.

“The diseases we are treating haven’t changed and the symptoms patients present with haven’t altered. But delaying a diagnosis can increase the potential risks. The earlier a patient can be properly assessed, the more effective a cancer treatment can be.

“I would encourage men to particularly look out for any lumps or changes in your testicles. Also, be aware that a history of undescended testicles as a child is a risk factor for testicular cancer. New urinary symptoms, blood in the urine or back/loin pain may be an indicator of something serious and should be investigated. If you have any of these symptoms it is really important to see your GP, who may arrange for some tests and a referral to a urologist.”

The Dragon NEWS has received anecdotal reports of widely varying appointment wait times at Guildford GP surgeries. We have requested specific performance information but so far this has not been supplied.

If you have experience of long or short wait times for a GP appointment you wish to share please use the Leave a Reply feature below. Anonymity can be agreed if required.

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Responses to Lib Dems Come Up With Proposals to Reduce GP Appointment Waiting Times

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    November 13, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    My wait is over 21 days, but it was not my request to see a doctor but my doctor’s request to see me!

    But how many coming into our country, who have arrived since Tony Blair opened the borders, are taking advantage of our NHS, while those who have paid in all their life have to wait?

  2. Howard Smith Reply

    November 15, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Does Jim Allen have any evidence for his claim that ‘since Tony Blair opened our borders, (they) are taking advantage of our NHS’? Our NHS is sustained by people coming into this country to work for the NHS. Without them it would collapse.

    Howard Smith is the vice-chair of Guildford Labour.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      November 15, 2022 at 4:03 pm

      Merrow Park surgery is displaying a notice saying: “All are welcome! Your nationality or immigration status do not affect your right to register here”.

      And is Mr Smith suffering long-term memory loss about Tony Blair and Robin Cook’s opening of our borders? <a href="http://” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>You only have to look at the ONS statistics.

      I would have liked to have had a vote on the subject.

      • Stuart Barnes Reply

        November 16, 2022 at 9:56 am

        That will be the day that we get a vote on it. Chance would be a fine thing.

        I recall that one of Blair’s people, former Labour adviser Andrew Neather, notoriously said that their policy was devised to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”.

        With the actions of the lefty lawyers and others in the immigration “industry”, I am afraid that it will only get worse.

    • John Perkins Reply

      November 16, 2022 at 2:08 am

      Is Mr Smith unaware of the state of our NHS?

  3. Howard Smith Reply

    November 15, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    This is very heartening to hear from Jim Allen, so I say well done Merrow Park Surgery for putting people ahead of the type of prejudice, for helping people who require medical treatment but whom you would instead like to see suffer.

    You must well know that the problems in the NHS are due to underfunding by successive Tory governments and not at all caused by migrants, many who themselves come here to work in the NHS.

    Mr Allen takes us back to the 1930s with his attitude to immigration. I wish him well but hope that he can one day reflect on his great good fortune to live in a such safe and stable country.

    Howard Smith is the vice-chair of Guildford Labour

    • Jim Allen Reply

      November 21, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Mr Smith doesn’t appear to have a clue what my attitude is on any subject. Let me summarise:

      – build No homes without sufficient drinking water;

      – allow no economic immigration without a need existing within our work-force resource and preferably train our own people;

      – grant asylum only to those in real danger.

      Open borders for the sake of political dogma is simply disconnected from the reality of its impact on our society. It is better to address problems in the migrants’ countries of origin. For every single immigrant housed and protected in the UK there are another 1,000 in the country of origin also needing assistance. We simply cannot take the whole population of a country because it is failing. It needs to be sorted at source.

      I prefer to help 1,000 in their home countries than just odd ones who arrive from other safe countries.

      And we have to be practical. As a simple example, the number of houses proposed in the Housing Market Assessment far exceeds the volume of drinking water which is ever going to be available. Drinking water is currently seven per cent short of the requirement in the South East. Demand is already exceeding rainfall.

      And the old sewage treatment works will be 18 per cent under capacity by January 2027.

      So while some tout the unrealistic policies of open borders, no matter the cost or demand on our infrastructure, I prefer to approach problems in a purely hard-nosed, technical, practical way.

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