One in five patients ignored health conditions after failing to see GP

Stock photo of a GP. Photo: Denise Bradley

Our survey showed 21pc of people did not act after failing to see their GP - Credit: EDP, Archant

More than 20pc of people have said they ignored their health conditions or concerns after failing to see a GP in the Great Yarmouth area.

The figure of 21pc of people saying they ignored an illness, problem or condition due to not being able to see their GP was revealed in a survey carried out by the Mercury.

It comes as the region now has just one GP for every 2,017 people due to a growing population and declining staff numbers.

Our survey asking people what they thought of their GP services saw 270 people reply to questions about access to their GP and how long they had to wait for appointments.

When asked how long they had to wait for an appointment 28pc of people responding said they waited between two days and a month - the highest total for respondents.

All GP practices have been told they must offer patients the choice of face-to-face appointments.

270 people responded to our GP survey - Credit: PA

The next highest figure was 27pc for waiting between seven days and a month.

In third place 22pc of people said they had an appointment the same day.

When asked "Have you taken any of the following steps at not having seen a GP?" 21pc of people responding said they had not acted at all and ignored their problem.

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The survey saw 18pc of people said they had called 111 to seek health advice after not being able to see a GP and 15pc had attended the accident and emergency department at a hospital.

When asked "Have you had difficulties in contacting your surgery on the phone?" 69pc of responses said 'yes'.

The survey also revealed 53pc of appointments were performed over the phone, with 38pc being face-to-face appointments and 9pc saying their were unable to make an appointment.

One respondent said: "Everything done over the phone. Never met or spoken with my GP. Can't order repeat prescriptions outside of opening hours! What's the point of that?!"

Another person said: "Never get to see the same doctor twice.

"If I try to see my doctor then I have to wait longer. I always feel I'm being rushed due to time constraints.

"I've not had a face to face appointment for at least two years. Generally I feel I'm an inconvenience."

Another said: "Utterly unacceptable, us pensioners are treated as third class citizens."

However someone else responded: "Fantastic service as always. Phone appointments only but followed by face to face if doctor thinks it's necessary, usually the same day."

When asked how satisfied people were with their GP, 11pc gave the lowest rating while 43pc gave the highest rating, which was was on a one to five rating.

One person said: "I am extremely satisfied with my GP service, I have found it to be an excellent practice."

In March, Norfolk and Waveney GPs honoured 419,706 appointments in person, against 144,960 via the telephone.

Leading GP, Tim Morton, who is chairman of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee, said: "GPs share the frustration that many patients express. GP practices want to see and help their patients but have been faced with an NHS struggling in all areas.

Dr Tim Morton of Beccles Medical centre Byline: Sonya Duncan

Dr Tim Morton, chairman of the Local Medical Committee - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"GP practices on a daily basis triage all calls in order to assess and treat those most in need with the resources available.

"This is the safest way in helping those patients in most clinical need as opposed to the demands of a population to meet all requests.

"By using the lessons gained in the pandemic practices have seen the value of telephone consultations as safely meeting part of this demand.

"All practices see patients when clinically necessary and utilising the skills of the wider team such as practice pharmacists, physiotherapists, nurse practitioners, physician associates, paramedics and mental health workers.

"Every day, GPs and their teams are dealing with more appointments than they can safety accommodate. This has an impact in patient safety terms. The waiting lists in general practice will only keep growing."