A 77 year old Ely man urges people to cancel doctor appointments they can't attend to help cut wait times
PUBLISHED: 11:30 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 12 December 2018
An Ely man is urging people to cancel doctors appointments they can't attend, amid new figures showing more than 50,000 people in Cambridgeshire wait at least three weeks to see their GP.
Of those, more than half, a shocking 26,100 people, wait more than a month.
Arthur Cutter, 77, said: “Everybody is having to wait a long time to see doctors but it doesn’t help if you book to see them don’t bother turning up and don’t ring to let them know.
“Week in week out doctors surgeries publish their numbers on the screens of how many people don’t bother turning up for appointments.
“It would take two minutes to pick up a phone and let the surgery know and means somebody else could have that appointment.
“Worse, if people can’t get in to see their own doctor they are then more likely to drive to Addenbrooke’s to be seen in A&E which gets overwhelmed.”
Nearly half of patients in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG were able to see a GP the same day the appointment was made.
The Patients Association said the impact of the waits “should not be underestimated”.
Rachel Power, the charity’s chief executive, said: “It can be incredibly stressful to face a long wait before getting to see a doctor, quite apart from prolonging the length of time someone has to live with the medical issue that is troubling them.
“All of this is a symptom of an NHS running at boiling point all year round.”
Doctors say it is important to treat patients early to “avoid conditions getting worse”.
NHS Digital data shows that 50,520 people in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group had to wait until at least 21 days to see a doctor after booking an appointment in October 2018.
Waiting times worsened in comparison with November 2017, the earliest period for which data is available, when 9 per cent of patients waited for at least three weeks.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said it was “frustrating” that patients were having to wait too long to secure a GP appointment.
“We want to deliver timely care to patients, in the early stages of illness, to avoid conditions getting worse, when they can be both more distressing for patients, and more costly for the NHS,” she said.
Experts say the figures include patients who need regular appointments and are likely to be booking ahead.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “GPs are working hard to provide high-quality care to their patients, with over a million appointments booked every weekday in October and 40 per cent of patients being seen on the same day.
“We are also rolling out extended access hours across the country to ensure patients can find appointments in the evenings and at weekends.”
Across England, doctors see around one million patients every day. Mondays are the busiest day of the week.