GP services under strain

GP practices are straining under pressure, an inquiry has found.

Friday, 21st November 2014, 12:16 pm
GP practices under pressure

Growing patient demand coupled with lack of funding and a shortage of GPs are highlighted in a new inquiry report.

The report investigates the reasons for patients’ variable experience of Bucks’ GP practices and appointment waiting times.

Bucks County Council’s health and adult social care select committee (HASC) undertook the inquiry in response to these concerns, aiming to better understand the problems and see how improvements could be made.

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The inquiry team looked at patients’ own reported experiences, held hearings to receive evidence from a range of professional sources and undertook visits to 12 GP practices across the county.

It found that the pressures on appointment waiting times were due to growing patient demand, while capacity to meet this demand was being constrained by a lack of funding, inadequate premises investment and, more particularly, difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff.

Despite the challenges, the inquiry found there was good patient access to a GP in cases of emergency need, and great effort was being made by practice staff to meet demand and deliver good patient care.

But more needs to be done to manage demand, invest in premises, and highlight instances of unacceptably long waits for non-urgent appointments.

The report, which will be presented and discussed at next week’s HASC meeting on Tuesday, November 25, makes a number of recommendations that are aimed not only at the local primary care commissioning process, but also at NHS England nationally in respect of the lack of openness on how GP funding allocations vary, and the resource provided to improvements in local GP commissioning and support that have been proposed.

Read the report on the HASC web pages here.

The meeting will be webcast on the county council’s website here.