Over 10,000 Wigan patients waiting three weeks or more to see GP

More than 10,000 patients in Wigan are waiting at least three weeks to see a GP, new figures reveal.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 12:36 pm
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 1:43 pm
Long waits for consultations can be stressful experts say

Doctors say it is important to treat patients early to “avoid conditions getting worse”.

NHS Digital data shows that 13,840 people in the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area had to wait until at least 21 days to see a doctor after booking an appointment in October 2018. That is 11 per cent of all patients. Of them, 6,600 waited more than a month.

Waiting times worsened compared to November 2017, the earliest period for which data is available, when nine per cent of patients waited for at least three weeks.

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The Patients Association chief executive Rachel Power said: “It can be incredibly stressful to face a long wait before getting to see a doctor, quite apart from prolonging the length of time someone has to live with the medical issue that is troubling them.

“All of this is a symptom of an NHS running at boiling point all year round.”

Dr Tim Dalton, chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “I think we are all agreed that having any patients wait three weeks for an urgent GP appointment is unacceptable.

“However, this data doesn’t tell us is if these appointments are people wanting an urgent appointment, or whether they are people pre-booking appointments weeks in advance.

“As a CCG, we now require all our practices to offer pre-bookable appointments up to a month in advance. This helps people with long term conditions, those with follow-up appointments and others, to help plan and manage their healthcare and treatment, and takes the stress out of appointment booking for them. We hope to see more patients doing this where it is appropriate and helps them.

“It is important that people who need an urgent, same day appointment with a GP are able to get one, and we are working hard with our practices to achieve this.

“For example, in South Wigan and North Ashton, we have eight practices trialling a same day access hub guaranteeing patients who need it a same day appointment. We also offer extra GP appointments across the borough on evening and weekends through the GP Extended Access service run by local GPs.

“Finally, I would like to say that this data shows that in October this year, GP practices in the borough delivered 125,000 appointments, or one for every three people. Of those 125,000, 50,000 were same day or next day appointments, and a further 33,000 patients were seen within the week.

“These are huge numbers, and throughout winter, we will be asking our practices to offer even more appointments to help meet increased need.”