According to a survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), compiled between 4–14 May, 36 per cent of Brits seeking access to healthcare this month said contacting their GP practice was ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’.
Fifteen per cent of patients said it took two or more days to contact their surgery, with another 10 per cent saying they didn’t manage to make contact at all.
Around 22 per cent of people who tried to contact their surgery in the first weeks of May described their overall experience as ‘very or fairly poor’.
Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan, Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, said: “The latest ONS study has examined opinions around people’s access to their local surgery and their overall happiness with GP services – and the results are concerning. 14 per cent of people had a ‘fairly poor’ experience with their GP practice and seven per cent reported a ‘very poor’ experience.
“Clearly, that is not sustainable for both patients and healthcare providers. We know that many practices have been struggling to catch up in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to increasing service demands and diminishing resources. This set of results shows how much of a burden our local surgeries are still under and how, ultimately, this is passed on to patients.”
He also reflected on the increasing number of people who are turning to private solutions to access healthcare quicker: “Expenditure on healthcare financed through non-government schemes, such as private treatments, increased by 9.5 per cent last year over 2021. It is now estimated at approximately £52 billion.” He continued: “Private (out-of-pocket) healthcare expenditure increased by 10.4 per cent, while voluntary health insurance schemes spending grew by 4.3 per cent. Although this may look to some like ‘stealth privatisation’ of the NHS, these figures could also represent a growing public appetite for increased choice. This, in turn, could take some of the pressure off essential NHS services.”