More than 11 million patients have waited over three weeks to see a GP since the Prime Minister promised to eradicate such delays, an analysis shows.
Last July, Boris Johnson declared that his job “is to make sure you don’t have to wait three weeks to see your GP”.
But in the four months for which figures are available since then, 11.3m patients have waited longer than three weeks. Of those, 5.6m waited more than a month, according to figures published by the Sunday Times.
In October, 3.3m patients waited more than 21 days to see a GP. It is the highest figure on record and up by 16% on the same month in 2018. Nearly half of the patients – 1.6m – waited more than a month.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the long waits were totally unacceptable.
“Whilst workload in general practice has escalated in terms of volume and complexity, successive governments have failed to invest sufficiently in the family doctor service in order to keep pace with demand, and one consequence is that we now have a worrying shortage of GPs,” he added.
The newspaper’s analysis of GP appointments data collected by NHS Digital found that four in every 10 patients had a same-day appointment, while seven were seen within a week. However, the proportions getting either a same-day appointment, one the next day or within a week have all fallen since data was first collected.
Meanwhile, the proportion waiting over a week, over two weeks, over three weeks or more than four weeks have all increased.
One in 10 patients now wait three weeks and one in 20 wait one month for an appointment, up from one in 25 two years ago.
The Department of Health and Social Care said: “Since July there have been over 100m GP appointments and the latest NHS figures show 40% of all appointments take place on the same day they are booked — but we are determined to reduce waiting times even further.”