Patients in Blackpool made to wait 11 days on average to see GP, figures reveal

Blackpool patients are typically forced to wait 11 days before seeing their GP, above the national average of seven days, research revealed.

Saturday, 18th September 2021, 12:30 pm

Blackpool patients are typically forced to wait 11 days before being able to see their GP, a study revealed.

Research by medical negligence firm Boyes Turner Claims, which analysed NHS Digital data on waiting times with a national survey of UK adults who have tried to see their GP in the last six months, found that 26 per cent of people in Blackpool had to contact their surgery several times before they could book an appointment.

They were told there weren’t any bookable slots left, or they couldn’t get through to reception staff, the survey revealed.

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A study revealed Blackpool patients were waiting 11 days on average for a doctor's appointment, but resort GP Dr Neil Hartley-Smith said if a patient is asked to wait 11 days, "this will have been deemed clinically appropriate through the triage process."

On average, it took them 4.1 days to get booked in, and then there was an average additional wait of 5.8 days before the appointment took place.

Some 14 per cent of people were seen on the same day, but 10 per cent had to wait more than a month to be seen.

Richard Money-Kyrle, partner of the medical negligence team at Boyes Turner said:  “The impact of the pandemic on health services has been all-encompassing.

“The NHS has been responding to unimaginable pressure since the initial coronavirus outbreak, and our research indicates that the impact on patients is continuing, especially when it comes to securing a speedy appointment with a medical professional.

“It is concerning that so many patients are resorting to self-diagnosis, visiting A&E and even alternative therapies simply because they cannot discuss their ailments with a trained medical professional in a suitable timeframe.

“We would urge the public to persevere with booking an appointment with their GP when needed and to seek advice from 111 or pharmacists if more urgent.”

Delays in appointments have seen patients look to other means to see a medical professional, or even try and deal with their ailments themselves, Boyes Turner Claims said.

In Blackpool, a fifth of patients called 111 while a further fifth had ignored the problem altogether.

Some resort residents continue to have issues with getting a face-to-face GP appointment.

Ben Bradford said: “You get a call back days later and if you miss the call you have to book it all over again.”

Cath Marsden added: “Nightmare - a three week wait for a telephone appointment.”

However, resort resident Lorna Gornall said there had been “no issues” at Waterloo Medical Centre in Waterloo Road, South Shore, and Karen Clifft said she had “always managed to get a face to face appointment if needed.”

Nationally, figures revealed one in ten people had become so disheartened with trying to book a GP appointment, they had resorted to researching “holistic” at-home remedies instead.

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, a Blackpool GP and clinical director for NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Along with other NHS services on the Fylde coast, GP practices continue to operate under significant pressure and are working extremely hard to provide in-demand health services while supporting the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine to local residents.

“Our practices have continued to provide care throughout the pandemic, adapting ways of working to keep patients and staff safe in line with national guidance. Practices have carried out appointments virtually or on the phone, providing the option of a face-to-face appointment where necessary, with surgeries employing a variety of trained health professionals to ensure patients could access care from the most appropriate clinician to suit their need.

“All patients requesting appointments will be triaged initially and prioritised accordingly. If urgent care is required then it will be dealt with urgently, either by the GP practice or with a referral to an alternative service. If a patient is asked to wait 11 days, this will have been deemed clinically appropriate through the triage process.

“The number of appointments available now is significantly more than before the pandemic, when taking into account both face to face and telephone consultations with clinicians. However the demand for appointments at is also much higher, which has added to the pressures currently being faced."