More than a quarter of patients in Sunderland waiting a week or more to see their GP

More than a quarter of patients seeking an appointment with their family doctor in Sunderland had to wait a week or more, a survey shows.

Friday, 31st August 2018, 6:00 am
A GP at work. PA Wire/PA Images

Of the patients in the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group who responded to the NHS’s annual GP Survey, 26% had to wait a week or more to see a GP or nurse last time they booked an appointment.

Five years ago, just 16% had to wait that long.

In the area, the issue was most pronounced at New Silksworth Medical Practice, where 56% of patients had to wait a week or longer to see a GP or nurse.

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At the other end of the scale, only 2% of patients faced a week’s delay at Dr R Obonna’s Surgery at Southwick Health Centre.

However, as well as the waiting times, the survey also showed that 84% of patients in Sunderland had a good experience with their GP practice and 93% were happy with the type of appointment they were given.

David Gallagher, Chief Officer at Sunderland CCG, said: “While we are disappointed with the GP patient survey data, Sunderland CCG is working closely with its GP practices to support the sustainability of general practice, particularly the workforce in the city.

“The 26% of patients in Sunderland having to wait a week or more for an appointment compares with 24% for the rest of England. This is both symptomatic of the pressure on GPs nationally and locally, caused by increasing demand and workforce issues.

“Unfortunately the data was collected after an extremely challenging winter period.”

Mr Gallagher said the New Silksworth Medical Practice was only operational from October 2017 after merging with another practice and this impacted on the waiting times.

He said the newly merged practice is making a number of improvements including recruiting six new GPs and two advanced nurse practitioners.

The chief officer, said: “The practice has also increased urgent appointment capacity to ensure that all patients who need an urgent appointment are seen and dealt with on the same day. This can be either at their own GP practice or through extended access appointments across the city.

“We are looking forward to completing another interim patient survey to review the impact of these changes.”

Last year, Prime Minister, Theresa May vowed to ensure all doctor’s surgeries would open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, unless they proved there was no demand.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Patients are still waiting too long for a GP appointment, and too many are not getting an appointment when they want one.

“As well as being frustrating for patients, and GPs, this is concerning as it means patients might not be getting the treatment they need in the early stages of their condition – and their conditions will potentially become more serious.

“The plain truth is that existing GPs and our teams are working to absolute capacity and we just don’t have enough GPs to offer enough appointments.”