OPINION: ‘Obtaining a doctor’s appointment needs the patience of Job’

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The prime minister and her health secretary deny any suggestion of a crisis in the NHS, but some of us are being told quite the opposite by our surgeries.

In its local newsletter my practice says that it is struggling to keep up with patient demand following the decline in investment in general practice in recent years.

Getting an appointment to see a doctor nowadays requires the patience of Job and involves repeat phone calls for a same-day appointment with no call back or forward booking.

The government’s response is to advise people to talk to their local pharmacists, while telling them that they too must reduce their number.

My newsletter goes on to say that recruitment of GPs and nurses remains a big problem.

Unsocial hours, staff shortages and the reluctance of young doctors to work in general practice are turning a challenging situation into a full-scale crisis.

But Mrs May insists all this is nonsense and surgeries should open seven days a week, while on the ground some are closing despite the UK having the highest patient/doctor ratio among European countries.

It’s a pity some MPs’ reaction is to attack health workers, focus on quoting meaningless statistics and covertly push a US-style private sector to take over.

* This letter was submitted to The News by Ray Cobbett of Beach Road, Emsworth