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Thursday 13 December 2018
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Patients struggling to get GP appointments, survey finds

Patients give up seeing their GP for months because they are unable to book an appointment

Millions of Brits struggle to see their GP because they find it so hard to make an appointment, a survey has revealed.

The survey of 2,035 UK respondents by Censuswide, commissioned by Octopus Healthcare, has found that more than 18 million people (36%) across the UK could not get a GP appointment in the past 12 months because they could not get through on the phone to make an appointment.

About 48% of respondents from Birmingham could not see their GP in the past year, while the figure stands at 40% in Cardiff and 39% in London.  

New technology

Octopus Healthcare believes that the use of new technology, such as booking systems, can help reduce waiting lists.

Octopus Healthcare CEO Benjamin Davis said: ‘We need innovative solutions to fix the problem. Merging GP practices together on a local level in modern, quality buildings is a key part of the solution. 

‘Larger practices and better-equipped buildings help attract and retain staff, and allow practices to use new technology such as booking systems so that patients can get through on the phone.  

‘This will ultimately help cut waiting lists and improve the range and quality of services on offer to patients.’

Improving telephone systems in practices is part of the General Practice Forward View (GPFV), which allocated some are some £171m to CCGs to allow them to support their practices with subsidiary technology services.

‘The initial phone call’  

Practice manager at the Princeway Health Centre in Frodsham Paul Smith said that their practice, which looks after more than 17,000 patients in Cheshire, can trust a joined up telephone and IT system.

He said: ‘Excellent service for our patients starts from the initial phone call. We have over 50 phone lines and a dedicated phone room, allowing us to take between 500 and 700 calls on a typical morning, while freeing up reception staff to help people in person.

‘Everyone should be able to get through to their GP practice, be seen promptly, and receive the best care possible. New, modern, GP surgeries like ours are vastly improving healthcare while lifting the burden off our strained NHS.’