Councillors warned of a “disastrous situation” emerging in local healthcare after figures showed around one in ten Nottinghamshire patients are having to wait more than three weeks to see their GP.
Figures from the clinical commissioning group (CCG), which organises NHS services in the city and county, show 231,702 patients out of 522,336 were seen on the same day as contacting their GP in June 2021.
This is the most recently available data, and while it was not compared to other years, the CCG provided assurances it is slightly better than the national average.
But the data showed 26,906 people had to wait more than 28 days before being seen by their doctor, and 26,153 waited between 22 and 28 days. Taken together, these figures mean around one in ten people had to wait more than 21 days – three weeks – for a consultation.
The data, reviewed by Nottinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee on Tuesday (September 7), also showed the spread of patients seen either face-to-face, on the phone, at home or by video.
In total, 298,001 patients accessed face-to-face appointments, or roughly 57 per cent, while 191,704 were supported over the phone.
A further 3,071 accessed video appointments, with 1,677 seen in their homes.
The CCG conceded the demand for healthcare services is at its highest ever point, increasing even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
But councillors spoke of conversations with constituents who have struggled in the past to access their GP.
Councillor Michelle Welsh (Lab) said some patients have struggled to even get past receptionists, describing it as a real issue of residents being stuck at the “first hurdle”.
Other concerns were raised about patients being supported through telephone calls, which accounted for around one in three June appointments, and the potential of major health issues being missed.
Cllr Sue Saddington (Con), chairman of the committee, said: “This business of telephone calls is causing problems with people who have major surgical issues, and then being missed.
“They don’t work, people don’t like them, and there is nothing to replace a face-to-face meeting with a doctor.
“It’s also outrageous people are having to wait such a length of time.”
Cllr Matt Barney (Con), who represents Leake and Ruddington, added: “We know there is a huge differentiation across Nottinghamshire, in the experience of residents [accessing] their own practice.
“I think there is a disastrous situation here and this data reveals it.”
But the CCG assured councillors it will be “transparent” in looking towards a solution on the issue.
The committee requested the CCG return in November with more detailed figures, broken down by individual district and GP practice.
This, the committee hopes, will address issues of individual practices falling below a “standard of care” expected by patients.
Lucy Dadge, chief commissioning officer at the CCG, said: “We do recognise the demands on all our healthcare services now are greater than they ever were.
“They were growing pre-Covid, and they’re growing now.”
She added: “There are mechanisms for us to act on individual concerns, and we will come back and go through it.
“We don’t contract for individual episodes of care, but we want to support GPs to recover from Covid, to respond to our increasingly-frail elderly population, but we need to do it together.”