GP appointments crisis laid bare as figures show family doctors are cramming in up to 60 patients per day
Family doctors are cramming in nearly 60 patients a day in some areas amid an appointments crisis.
Alarming figures reveal that each GP in England saw an average of 8,534 patients last year after many put off visits during the Covid pandemic.
A growing population and shrinking workforce has exacerbated the crisis, with patients waiting as long as four weeks for an appointment in some areas.
GPs in North East Lincolnshire saw an average 58 patients a day or one every seven minutes based on a 37.5 hour, five-day week.
This was more than double the average 25 patients seen daily in Liverpool and the highest figure for the last four years across all of England’s 106 health districts.
A growing population and shrinking workforce has exacerbated the crisis, with patients waiting as long as four weeks for an appointment
GPs in just over half of the health districts saw more patients daily than the national average of 34 – or one every 13 minutes (file image)
It was followed by Thurrock, where GPs saw an average 48 patients a day in 2022, and North East Essex where the figure was 46.
GPs in just over half of the health districts saw more patients daily than the national average of 34 – or one every 13 minutes.
The figures from the House of Commons Library, shared with the Mail by the Liberal Democrats, lay bare the crisis.
They show the total number of appointments rose to 313,084,783 last year, up nearly 25million from 288,273,685 in 2019.
That year, each GP in England saw an average of 8,351 patients.
It comes amid a shortage of GPs, with ministers set to miss a 2019 vow to hire 6,000 more by 2024-25.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said his party would hire another 8,000 so ‘people can be guaranteed an appointment within a week’. Figures have also shown that the number of patients per fully qualified GP has rocketed to its highest-ever level.
There are now an average of 2,273 for each family doctor – an increase of 15 per cent in five years. In some areas there are almost 3,000 patients sharing a fully qualified GP.
Dr Kieran Sharrock, chairman of the GP committee at the BMA doctors’ union, said the figures are ‘further evidence of the pressure that GPs are under’ with rising numbers of patients amid a ‘worrying shortage’ of doctors.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said urgent action was needed ‘to reverse the shocking decline’ in service. She called for more investment in IT and less form-filling for family doctors.
A Department of Health spokesman said there are ‘hundreds more doctors in general practice than last year’ plus record numbers in training. There are now also ‘83,500 more appointments each working day’ compared to this time last year.