Monday, 29 September 2014

GP surgeries in crisis

According to the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), waiting times to see a GP are now a national crisis. The latest predictions from the RCGP show that on 60 million occasions over the next year, patients will have to wait a week or longer to see their GP or practice nurse.

In the latest poll commissioned by the RCGP, two-thirds of those surveyed said that they worry that GP workloads are a threat to the standard of care that GPs can provide to their patients. Only 23% think that there are enough GPs to deal with Britain's changing and growing population, particularly with more and more people now living longer, often with multiple or complex health problems.

The RCGP and the National Association for Patient Participation have launched the campaign Put patients first: Back general practice in a bid to increase the share of the NHS budget for general practice to 11% by 2017. It's hoped that the extra investment will expand the GP workforce, especially in deprived or under-doctored areas.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Public Health England recently launched a new winter health campaign, called Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice, to encourage people to seek advice from their pharmacist before going directly to their GP. It is hoped that this will help to free up GP appointments for people who really need them. Research carried out to support the Treat Yourself Better campaign found that only one in five adults make use of their local pharmacist for winter ailments. Yet people wait on average less than five minutes to speak to a local pharmacist about winter ailments, compared with a 3.5 day wait to get a GP appointment, with one in five people waiting at least seven days.

The Treat Yourself Better campaign found that many people also underestimate the normal duration of colds and flu, visiting their GP too early in the infection. Ninety percent expect a cough to last on average only eight days, when in fact it can last for up to three weeks. And 80% expect flu symptoms to last only 10 days, when two weeks in the normal duration.

For more details about the Treat Yourself Better campaign, click here. Find out how you can treat colds and flu yourself, check your symptoms and watch out for warning signs that indicate you may need to see your GP.

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