NHS figures reveal Dorset has the second highest waiting time to see a GP

  • Latest national figures show 6.2 million people, or one in four, waited over eight days to get a GP appointment in February

  • Postcode lottery reveals one in three people in some areas waiting one week or more to see their doctor

  • Number of same day appointments falls by over half a million compared to previous month

  • Lib Dems have slammed the broken Conservative promise to hire more GPs and demanded an urgent recruitment plan

A staggering 6.2 million people waited over eight days for a GP appointment in February, Liberal Democrat research has revealed. This is up 9% from the previous month, when 5.7 million waited for eight days or more to see their GP.  

The analysis of the latest NHS figures shows that one in four (24.4%) people waited over eight days in February before being able to see their family doctor. Of these, 550,000 people (2%) were left waiting a month or more for a GP appointment.

The figures also reveal a postcode lottery, with almost one in three people in some areas waiting eight days or more to see their GP. The five worst areas with the highest proportion of people waiting over eight days were Gloucestershire (31.5%), Dorset (31.2%), Sheffield (31.1%), East Riding of Yorkshire (31%) and Stafford (30.8%).

Meanwhile the number of same day appointments in February fell by over half a million compared to January. Fewer than one in two (45%) people were able to see their GP on the same day in February, down from 47% the previous month.

The Liberal Democrats said the figures revealed the impact that years of Conservative neglect and broken promises have had on GP services. 

The Conservatives are four years behind their manifesto pledge to recruit 6,000 more GPs by 2025.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Health Secretary Sajid Javid to publish a strategy to tackle GP shortages and meet the government’s own recruitment targets. The party said urgent action is needed to train more GPs and encourage experienced doctors to stay on in the profession, as many are considering early retirement or leaving altogether. 

Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said: “The Conservatives have broken their promise to recruit more GPs, leaving millions of people struggling to get an appointment when they need one. Desperate people are turning up at A&E instead, piling pressure on the NHS at a time it can least afford it.”

“Local health services are suffering after years of neglect under this government which has driven them into the ground. We are calling for a proper plan to recruit the GPs the country desperately needs and prevent so many doctors leaving or retiring early.”

Cllr Chris Matthews, the Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson for the BCP area added, “Just last week we saw a large housing estate approved in North Poole without any additional capacity for our GPs and this is going to put more strain on services. The exodus of staff following Brexit, along with burnout from the pandemic is causing more strain than ever to our incredible NHS heroes. It is time for the Government to support NHS staff and to build capacity, after all it takes a decade to train a new GP and people are suffering here and now.  Whilst we don't have local elections this May, we hope voters elsewhere will take the chance to send Boris Johnson a message that people are fed up with broken promises and being taken for granted." 

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