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East Lancashire people warned to expect longer waits to see GPs
PATIENTS will face longer waiting times for GP appointments as the squeeze continues on NHS budgets, doctors are predicting.
A poll conducted by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) found that more than 70per cent were forecasting longer waits within two years.
It comes as East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which controls NHS budgets in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, yesterday agreed a new strategy for primary care. The group also agreed to lobby NHS England, which commissions primary care, to invest more cash in East Lancashire, which currently has ‘one of the lowest’ allocations.
Dr Fiona Ford, a CCG board member, said GP surgeries will ‘definitely’ need more staff to meet the increasing demand from patients, but there would also need to be more emphasis on preventing patients getting ill in the first place.
Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the RCGP said: “GPs are grappling with a double whammy of spiralling workloads and dwindling resources, and big cracks are starting to appear in the care and services that we can deliver for our patients.The profession is now at break- ing point, and we do not have the capacity to take on any more work without extra fund-ing and resources to back it up.”
The survey of 200 GPs also showed that eight in 10 said they did not have enough resources to provide high-quality care.
Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “I’m already hearing all the time that patients are struggling to get an appointment. Our GPs work very hard, but they don’t have enough money, or resources.”
He said relaxed immigration rules, due to European Union laws, have also placed extra strain on GPs, and feared the NHS will buckle under the pressure if the numbers heading to Britain continue to increase.
Ben Dyson, of NHS England, said: “We fully recognise that demands and patterns of healthcare are changing, and that this is increasing pressure on parts of the NHS. That’s why we have recently published a call to action about the future of general practice to help stimulate new, innovative approaches to providing services and ensuring every patient gets the care they need.”
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