Daily Mail

NHS GP exodus is the main problem

- KAY PARTON, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon.

SARAH VINE’S frustratio­n at struggling to get through to her GP surgery (Mail) will resonate with many patients and will unfortunat­ely come as no surprise to the ever-dwindling number of GPs and their teams. The simple fact is that there are too few GPs or practice staff to provide the care patients are asking for and need.

In September, practices in England booked more than 28 million appointmen­ts — that’s one for every other adult in the country. This is on the back of having lost the equivalent of more than 1,800 full-time GPs since 2015. Anyone can see these numbers just don’t add up to a safe and sustainabl­e system.

GPs do not need Ms Vine’s unfounded accusation that they are using Covid-19 as an ‘excuse’ not to see patients or are ‘guilt-tripping’ people for wanting an appointmen­t. Practices did all they could to protect the most vulnerable patients during the peak of the pandemic, so what Ms Vine describes is not at all about doctors refusing to see people. Such criticisms will lead to more doctors leaving general practice, meaning patients will find it even harder to get an appointmen­t or be seen in a timely manner.

We are on the side of patients, so attempts to divide us in such a way only distract from who is really to blame for our failing health services: the Government.

Dr KIERAN SHARROCK, BMA England GP committee

deputy chair, Lincs. I AGREE entirely with Sarah Vine about GPs still using Covid as an excuse for not seeing patients. I have also had to wait at least two weeks for an appointmen­t. When I asked what I was supposed to do if the problem was urgent, as Sarah’s was, they suggested I attend A&E — which would further clog up the overworked A&E department.

TERRY PAYNE, London SW2. SARAH VINE’s piece about GPs and Covid struck a chord with me. I am a fit and well 72-year-old but have a history of chest infections and, in the past, have developed pleurisy and pneumonia.

Egged on by my daughter to see the doctor, just like Sarah, I also got nowhere. In the end, I contacted a private GP service and received an appointmen­t the same day. It was £45 for half an hour with a lovely doctor who examined me thoroughly, listened to me and prescribed antibiotic­s. It was worth every penny. Not everyone can afford to pay £45, though, and I think it’s wicked the way surgeries are hiding behind Covid. They are letting their patients down big time.

ANNETTE ARTHUR, Bedford. SARAH VINE’S experience was much like that of many poorly folk who need to see the family doctor but simply can’t any more.

Since Covid, doctors have gone to ground and, in my experience, will do anything rather than see you face-toface. You have to crawl through hoops to see one and, if you finally do, it is usually a stand-in doctor.

I actually did manage to get a face-toface appointmen­t with my doctor last week. At 9am the surgery was like a ghost town, with 30 empty chairs and only one other person waiting.

The appointmen­t system is, as Sarah experience­d, a lengthy online form-filling exercise. The forms are reviewed by a doctor, who then decides if you are ill enough to be seen. Goodness knows how an elderly person is expected to deal with this. I suspect many cannot and choose instead to suffer their symptoms privately, hoping whatever is wrong with them will go away.

Call me a cynic but perhaps that is the whole point of the new system. Covid has been responsibl­e for apathy and laziness in the public sector and GP surgeries are no different.

Vets, hairdresse­rs, dentists, osteopaths, shop assistants and airline cabin crews are all functionin­g as normal again but doctors are still hiding behind Covid.

 ?? ?? Dearth of doctors: Who’s to blame?
Dearth of doctors: Who’s to blame?

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