Thousands head to A&E if local GP not available
TENS of thousands of people a year in Birmingham could be going to hardpressed accident and emergency departments when their doctors’ surgery is closed.
That was the conclusion of fresh analysis of the GP Patient Survey – an annual poll recording the views and experiences of more than a million people across England.
Some 74 per cent of respondents in the Birmingham and Solihull area said they had, at some point in the previous 12 months, wanted to see their GP but ended up contacting another NHS service because their practice was closed.
Of those, 36 per cent said they had gone to A&E.
The figures come with emergency departments under record strain – and with doctors and politicians warning people to cut out unnecessary visits to A&E.
A report commissioned by the British Medical Association last year found 23 per cent of adult visits to A&E were unnecessary and that “low capacity within alternative care services”, including general practice, “contributes to the problem”.
The GP Patient Survey, released earlier this month and based on data gathered in January to April, had 15,823 responses from people in Birmingham and Solihull to the question: “In the past 12 months have you contacted an NHS service when you wanted to see a GP but your GP practice was closed?”
Across England, the data suggests as many as 3.3 million people ended up at A&E when they wanted to see a GP but could not.