Patients forced to wait ‘several weeks’ to see GP

Credit: This story was first seen on the Eastern Daily Press

The Eastern Daily Press report that people in North Norfolk are waiting ‘several weeks’ for an appointment to see their GP, according to sitting Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb.

Mr Lamb expressed his concerns over the pressure faced by GPs, after he was told by one constituent with a chronic health problem he could not see a doctor for “several weeks”.

He said: “I’ve been talking to people, knocking on doors, and I’ve been alarmed by a number of people telling me that they have got very long waits to get an appointment with their GP. The most recent was in North Walsham, and someone with significant health issues was told he needed to wait.”

Mr Lamb said he spoke to local GPs on a regular basis, and knew they were under pressure.

In the most recent details released about Norfolk and Waveney’s health plan, it was recognised there was a need to improve access and capacity to GP surgeries, as well as addressing the retention and recruitment of doctors.

But Mr Lamb was worried that without appointments available now people would instead go to accident and emergency departments unnecessarily.

“I think it’s an example of the impossible pressure the NHS is under, and I’m very conscious the government is not investing in the NHS. I hear instances of people who have money who are paying to opt out of long waiting times for things like hip replacement, but people who do not have money are left waiting. I don’t want to live in a country like that.”

Tim Morton, chair of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Council agreed GPs were in short supply. He said: “Every GP in the county would wish to see patients promptly but unfortunately there isn’t enough GPs and support staff to meet this demand.”

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He added the government’s plan to improve GP provision over the next five years had fallen short in some areas.

“While there has been some delivery, there have been cases where promised funding has been severely delayed or distributed unevenly across the county. This inadequate implementation is unacceptable given the huge pressures on general practice from rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages. Many GP practices are at breaking point and they need certainty they will get the resources necessary to deliver safe, effective care.”