TV ad highlights ‘stress and anxiety’ of booking GP appointments

A leading health union has hit out over the impact of NHS underfunding on waiting times for GP appointments in a television advert aired ahead of this week’s general election

This is an edited version of an article which first appeared on GPonline

The clip, which shows a family frantically preparing to hit the phones to secure a doctor’s appointment, was created by Unison to highlight difficulties some patients face when booking a GP visit.

Unison says a decade of NHS funding cuts are to blame for increasing delays and has urged the public to consider the future of the NHS before they vote on 12 December.

The TV ad comes as GPonline’s latest opinion poll reveals that nearly three quarters of GPs report waits for GP appointments have risen over the past year at their practice.

Unions said this week that the NHS needs more than 9,000 extra GPs to deliver safe care. GP numbers have continued to fall over the past year despite government promises to increase the workforce – and the NHS saw a sharp rise in the number of appointments delivered by GPs in the first half of 2019.

NHS funding cuts

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Nine years of Tory cuts have ravaged the NHS, with decisions made in Westminster affecting families’ daily lives across the country.

‘Hospitals with ambulances stacked up outside have huge staff vacancies and hard-working employees are frazzled trying to fill the gaps, while patients face long waiting times in A&E when they can’t get a GP appointment. Everyone who works for and uses the NHS can see how the government has squeezed our health service.

‘When walking into polling stations next week, people should think about the NHS and the improvements that are desperately needed.

All major political parties have vowed to boost GP numbers in England to reduce waiting times. The Conservatives have promised 6,000 more GPs – but have not made clear if this is an FTE figure, Labour has promised 5,000 extra FTE GPs and the Liberal Democrats have promised to ‘end the GP shortage in five years.

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