A new report from Pulse has found that the average wait for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks, for the first time ever.
The annual survey of waiting times surveyed 901 GPs across the UK and found that the average waiting time is now 15 days, the first time it has ever exceeded a fortnight.
The results also found that 22% of GPs said that the wait for a routine appointment was more than three weeks, and 6% said that it was longer than four weeks.
In full, the figures reported that 180 GPs said the waiting time was less than a week, 243 said it was one to two weeks, 280 said two to three weeks, and 142 practices said three to four weeks.
The worst statistics came in at 45 GPs saying appointments were taking four to five weeks and 11 GPs taking more than five weeks to get round to non-urgent patients.
The organisation pointed out that the survey was launched in June 2019, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 35 questions asked ‘covered a wide range of GP topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue.’
One GP, who cited a waiting list of four to five weeks at their practice, told the publication that their list size “continues to grow because there are so many housing developments. We are poorly remunerated under the GMS contract for the hard work that we do. Patient demand continues to soar with higher expectations despite dreadful government funding. MPs have a lot to answer for.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs said that the fact that booking an appointment is becoming ‘increasingly difficult’ is ‘frustrating’ for GPs and teams.
She continued to say that the College has “long been raising the alarm about escalating resource and workforce pressures in general practice, and the negative impact this is having on our patients.
“GPs and our teams are making more consultations than ever before – more than a million a day across the UK – but as our population grows and more people present with multiple conditions, we desperately need more GPs and more time to give our patients the care they deserve.”
Official figures from earlier this year suggested that the average waiting times for all appointments in England was more than three weeks now. However, this data included follow-up appointments, where it was clinically appropriate to see the GP at a later date.
Despite the figures, the NHS data also found that 40% of all appointments were same-day, urgent appointments.