Patients are becoming frustrated with the increasing difficulty of trying to get a doctor’s appointment in Aylesbury.
The British Medical Association states that a rapid expansion of the general practitioner workforce in England is needed to remedy the shortage.
New data shows that Aylesbury and Bucks family doctor offices have changed little since the lockdown was eased, and nearly half of GP consultations are still completed remotely.
Out of 104 CCG areas, only 22 performed a lower percentage of in-person appointments than Bucks operations.
National figures show that in the first full month since the restrictions ended, only 58% of patients received face-to-face treatment. Compared to more than 80% before the pandemic.
Many GPs tell callers that they are “fully booked” for weeks, and even counseling over the phone is extremely difficult, patients say.
“This situation is more than a joke now. People cannot get through to doctors who refuse to return to their offices.” said a man.
“I’ve spent almost the entire two days getting through to doctors. I dread thinking about what cancer rates are going to be,” he added.
Another patient said, “Women get smears and many won’t get them because they can’t get through.
“I had to hang up after three hours on hold yesterday to speak to a receptionist and I’ve seen on social media that it seems like most people do.”
A patient who was having trouble getting through the phone came to his practice to schedule an appointment.
“I felt like a criminal,” he said.
“It was like Fort Knox. Then someone shows up after opening all the locks, reluctantly speaking to you through a crack in the door, telling you to use the phone line – which is always full. The world is going back to normal, but our doctors “- those who have encouraged us all to get our vaccines so we can can back to normal – still working from home and it worsens the situation with the backlog. ”
Nationally, A&E doctors have reported higher numbers of people showing up at hospitals for emergency care because they could not be seen by their GP.
One mother said, “My young son had a bad ear infection. He’s had it before, so I knew he needed treatment and probably antibiotics. I called and called my GP but they insisted there were no appointments, not even phone consultations.
“I was told to call at 8am the next morning. But when I did that the line was busy for an hour. I was supposed to take my son to the hospital emergency room if he needed to be seen.
“He was in a lot of pain now. I waited for hours in the hospital to get a bottle of antibiotics that my GP could have prescribed in a few minutes … The whole system is crazy at the moment.”
Emergency physicians report that lack of access to general practitioners has a knock-on effect on the emergency department and is a key factor in causing high numbers of hospitals to turn up for care.
General practitioners say the problems are caused by increasing demand and also by a lack of staff. Figures show that the number of full-time GPs has decreased by 7% over the past five years – despite government efforts to increase the number.
In the meantime, the Covid vaccination program, combined with the increasing demand from people in need of support who had to wait longer for hospital treatment, has led to an increased workload for all operations.
A spokesman for Bucks CCG said: “General practitioners and practice staff across Buckinghamshire have worked extremely hard during the pandemic and services have always been open to patients.
“More emphasis was placed on remote examinations and patients were invited to face-to-face appointments when clinically necessary. GPs have never stopped working or closed their doors as a service; they just work in a Covid-safe manner.” to ensure the safety of staff and patients, and these measures are still required.
“GPs and practice staff were under immense pressure during this period, and the demand for services was above what is normally expected for this time of year. As of August 2021, practices have made a total of 206,735 appointments with patients in Buckinghamshire. That is an increase.” of more than 3,000 as of August 2019 (pre-pandemic) We know the phone lines can be busy and we know this can be frustrating for patients at times.
“In addition to their daily workload, GPs have played an important role in introducing Covid vaccination and helping to produce 779,942 vaccines in Buckinghamshire (through May 26th).
“You are now supporting the COVID booster program and running the usual flu vaccination program. Primary care staff, like everyone else, are affected by Covid in terms of illness and isolation, which can lead to shortages.
“Even so, compared to last year, there are now more face-to-face appointments available for anyone who is determined to need one. This assessment is based on the patient’s clinical needs and whether a person may have a condition that requires more support.
“The national cervical screening call and call back system is fully operational and available in primary care practices. Patients are mailed to a screening appointment (by Public Health England) and we ask anyone invited to take a smear test . ” Test to contact your GP as soon as possible to make an appointment. “
Dr. Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chairman of Bucks CCG added, “The pandemic has been extremely difficult for many patients and we understand that some may be frustrated if they wait a little longer than usual on the phone or for certain treatments. However, it is vital that we prioritize those patients who need us most and who may have urgent health needs that require attention.
“During the pandemic, general practitioners and practice staff worked incredibly hard and often took on additional workloads to support the vaccination program. Your top priority is always the health and well-being of the patient. “