Hundreds of patients unable to get GP appointments in Hartlepool, survey reveals


HUNDREDS of patients were unable to get an appointment with their GPs in Hartlepool, according to the results of official surveys.

The Department of Health questioned thousands of patients over six months last year.

But more people in the Hartlepool and Stockton GP area group said they were unable to get an appointment to see or speak to someone than anywhere else in the North East and North Yorkshire.

The survey found 4,749 patients who responded to the survey, or 12 per cent, said they were unable to get an appointment with their GP when they wanted one.

And in the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield clinical commissioning group, the figure was 470 patients, equating to 10 per cent.

Clinical commissioning groups are NHS organisations which organise the delivery of services in their area.

The Royal College of General Parishioners says it is a problem nationally because of a fall in funding for general practice over the last decade, coupled rapidly growing demand.

Chair Dr Maureen Baker said: “The unprecedented decline in funding for healthcare in the community has brought general practice to its knees.

“GPs and practice nurses want to provide high-quality care for every single patient who seeks a consultation, and over the last decade we have increased the number of patients we see each year in England by 40 million.

“However, GPs and practice nurses can’t keep doing more for less and now that funding for general practice in England has slumped to just 8.5 per cent of the NHS budget the service we provide is in crisis.

“All three political parties say they want to see more patients being treated in the community, where care can be provided to patients more economically, in their own surroundings, and yet resources are increasingly being diverted away from communities and into hospitals.

“By continually diverting resources into hospitals, we have fuelled a real and growing crisis in general practice.”

The survey results relate to the six months for January to March and July to September last year.

The Department of Health said the surveys showed the vast majority of patients are happy with their GP service.