THOUSANDS of people are facing long delays when they try to get an appointment with their GP.
Figures from the GP Patient Survey show 39 per cent of patients in the Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group area could not book an appointment within seven days of calling their practice.
Patient care is suffering, A&E waiting times are rising and GPs services are in crisis.Cllr John Ferrett
In Portsmouth, 32 per cent of patients also had to wait more than seven days. The national average is 26 per cent.
People living in Havant, Hayling Island and the Waterlooville area, which is covered by South Eastern CCG, were below the national average at 20 per cent.
Councillor John Ferrett, Labour group leader in Portsmouth and former chairman of the Portsmouth health overview scrutiny panel, said: ‘It is absolutely shocking that four in 10 people in Fareham and Gosport are struggling to see their family doctor.
‘The numbers are hardly any better in Portsmouth.
‘These figures explain in part why Queen Alexandra Hospital continues to experience such high demand. People are turning to A&E because GP appointments are so hard to come by.
‘Patient care is suffering, A&E waiting times are rising and GP services are in crisis.
‘We need a proper plan to improve our NHS and ensure patients in Portsmouth get the care they need, when they need it.’
GPs say they are struggling to recruit young doctors and that is leading to difficulties for patients.
Dr Nick Moore, a GP in Southsea, said: ‘Locally, as in many other parts of the country, we are struggling to recruit young doctors to train as GPs and those at the end of their careers can’t wait to retire.
‘Many practices are carrying vacancies and this inevitably leads to difficulties for patients. We have a long way to go in order to reverse the decline of recent years.
‘We all know what a great place Portsmouth is. The challenge is to inspire a new generation of young doctors to come and work here.’
The figures are broken down for each CCG and were answered by patients taking part in the independent GP Patient Survey run by Ipsos Mori on behalf of NHS England.
A spokesman for Fareham and Gosport and Portsmouth CCG said: ‘Much work has gone on since this survey was published.
‘Gosport is a national pioneer of the Better Local Care initiative which looks at building closer working relationships between acute and primary care clinicians to further join up care.
‘In the last few weeks, Fareham has also embraced the concept of Better Local Care.
‘A number of practices throughout the area of the three CCGs have introduced new ways of working that have led to more same-day appointments as well as offering telephone appointments and shorter wait times.
‘Patients are seen more quickly when there is a need.
‘Many practices already offer extended hours of opening at the weekend or during the evenings to give patients greater choice and flexibility.’
He added: ‘In Portsmouth, initiatives to improve access and patient experience include an audit of capacity and demand across the GP practices, working closely with Healthwatch and patient groups to identify areas of best practice.
‘This includes introducing additional services to best support patients and alleviate pressure on GPs.
‘We are keen to remind patients there are things they can do to help improve the situation, like cancelling appointments that are no longer needed and not booking appointments “just in case”.’
Figures show most patients see a doctor
SURVEYS filled out by patients show the majority were able to get an appointment with their GP.
But in two areas, the wait for a third of patients was more than a week.
In Fareham and Gosport, 74 per cent of people said they were able to get an appointment with 11 per cent getting one when they called back either nearer or on the day of the appointment.
Of the 85 per cent of people who were able to see their GP, a third had to wait more than a week.
Twelve per cent of patients said they were not able to get an appointment, and the remaining three per cent couldn’t remember how long it took.
In Portsmouth, the figures showed the same percentage of people were able to get an appointment with their GP as in Fareham and Gosport.
Seventy-three per cent of people were able to get an one when they called first time and a further 12 per cent got an appointment when they called back nearer the day of they wanted.
But of the 85 per cent who got to see a GP, more than a quarter (27 per cent) had to wait more than a week.
Ten per cent of patients answered the survey as not getting an appointment at all, and five per cent couldn’t remember.
South Eastern Hampshire CCG, which covers Havant, Waterlooville and Hayling Island, had the highest number of patients getting an appointment with their doctor. Of the patients who completed the survey, 81 per cent got an appointment first time with nine per cent getting one when they called a second time.
Of the 90 per cent, only 15 per cent had to wait more than a week with seven per cent saying they did not get an appointment.
Schemes in place to help GPs see patients
SCHEMES are in place to help people see a GP quicker.
In Gosport, a pilot project known as a the same-day access service has been running since December.
Set up at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, it gives people the chance to see a GP that day. People call the service and explain their symptoms that are then triaged to a GP.
If it is felt they need to see a GP, they can go to the hospital.
Some GP practices in Gosport are partnering with Southern Health NHS Trust.
The trust has medical professions such as physiotherapists and nurses which may be able to treat a patient.
Rather than the patient make an appointment with their doctor and then get referred, they can see the correct professional first.
The partnership has proved successful in its early days.
Practice manager of Forton Medical Centre Chris Complin said at the start of the project: ‘It is difficult times in Gosport and this scheme is not only viable but allows our GPs to have the time to think, develop clinical ideas and take them forward.
‘All we needed was for one doctor to retire and another to call in sick and we would have been at that cliff edge.’
Mr Complin added he has received compliments about the scheme from both staff and patients.
‘We are getting more and more positive feedback,’ he said.