The crisis in general practice is having a “deep impact” on A&E services as increasing numbers of patients attend simply because they find it difficult to get a GP appointment, says a new study.

The research, based on a sample of 150 patients attending A&E at St George’s hospital in London, found that 18 percent of those patients were attending because they could not get an appointment with their GP, 15 percent because waiting times at their GP practice were too long, and 14 percent simply due to ‘convenience’. Only nineteen percent of the patients said they felt their condition was serious and needed A&E treatment.

Researchers Dr Hamed Khan and Fahima Begun said that “to solve the A&E crisis, policy makers will have to address and solve the GP crisis”.

They added: “This is deeply worrying as the NHS enters a period of unprecedented challenges, with an ageing population, worsening financial pressures, and massive staff recruitment and retention problems.

“Politicians who use the NHS as a “political football” and prioritise populist initiatives geared towards convenience rather than need, must also be held to account for their contribution to this.”