NHS: millions shut out of doctors' surgeries

Jul 28, 2014

Royal College of GPs says new data is 'shocking indictment' of NHS

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Tens of millions of people are being turned away from doctors' surgeries every year, as many patients are forced to take their concerns to A&E or simply to try to recover at home.

In data described by doctors' leaders as a "shocking indictment" of a failing health system, it has emerged that one in nine people trying to see a GP cannot get an appointment, with doctors turning away patients more than 40 million times this year, The Times reports.

The Royal College of GPs, which analysed data from the NHS GP patient survey of a million people, found that patients in London and Birmingham are hit hardest by the disturbing trend, with one in seven being turned away. Twelve per cent of patients in Merseyside, Manchester and West Yorkshire also face disappointment when trying to see a GP.

As pressure for appointments mounts, health experts say patients have to join long queues at emergency sessions, try their luck at A&E or simply give up and hope they recover at home. They are warning that early signs of cancer and other fatal diseases could be missed as a result.

The Royal College of GPs says that the system had been "brought to its knees" by the sheer pressure and volume of patient demand. It warns that it is only going to become harder to see a doctor. The analysis predicts that patients will be turned away 51 million times next year, rising to 58 million in 2016.

"The fact that patients in England will be unable to see their GP when they want to on more than 50 million occasions in 2015 is a truly shocking indictment of the crisis that is enveloping general practice," said a spokeswoman.

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