GP surgeries are reducing their opening hours by cutting out weekend and evening appointments which is putting increasing pressure on A&E units according to Labour’s second NHS Check Report.
Before the general election David Cameron pledged that under the Conservatives GP surgeries would be open until 8pm seven days a week.
Our figures show that in Oldham we already have three fewer GP extended hours surgeries available since 2010/11.
The cumulative effect of Government policies is piling pressure on A&E departments resulting in higher numbers missing their waiting targets and having a dramatic impact on patient care.
For instance at the Royal Oldham Hospital, despite the hard work of NHS staff, waiting time targets for patients admitted to hospital from A&E are not being met and reductions in GP extended hours surgeries will only increase the pressure. In fact national benchmarking data shows that only 6% of A&E departments achieved this new, lower, threshold set by the government.
What we are experiencing in Oldham is reflected in A&Es across England where records show close to 1 million extra visits in 2011/12 compared to 2009/10 as the annual number of visits rose from 20,511,908 To 21,480,589.
What’s so frustrating is that Mr. Cameron promised patients would be able to get evening appointments with their GP, but across the country almost 500 more surgeries are now shutting earlier.
With NHS Walk-in Centres and surgeries closing earlier, patients are being left with little alternative but to turn to A&E. As a result A&E units up and down the country are reaching breaking point with a million extra visitors in the last year, thousands of nursing jobs axed and twice as many patients left waiting on trolleys in corridors.
The Prime Minister needs to get a grip on the NHS, bring back longer surgery opening hours and halt the closure of Walk-in Centres pending an urgent review.
Update: On 10 August 2012 I received an update from the Oldham Climical Commisisoning Group detailing the following figures –
- In 2012/11 44 practices offering extended opening out of a total of 50 practices
- In 2011/12 42 practices offered extended opening outo f a total of 47 practices
- In 2012/13 41 practices offered extended opening out of a total of 46 practices