Daily Mail

Misery for elderly as 1 in 6 GPs now only book online

- By Shaun Wooller Health Editor

THE NHS is discrimina­ting against elderly patients with one in six GP practices now taking bookings online only, a study suggests.

Campaigner­s warn Britons are missing out on vital care as the NHS is ‘erecting barriers’ that limit opportunit­ies to see a family doctor face-to-face.

This is forcing people into private healthcare or overcrowde­d A&E department­s and hits those without internet access hardest, over-60s group Silver Voices said.

Its poll of 1,200 members reveals 76 per cent have experience­d difficulti­es in obtaining a face-to-face GP appointmen­t.

Eighty per cent have been forced to accept a telephone consultati­on and 71 per cent begrudging­ly saw another member of practice staff.

Meanwhile, 18 per cent have gone to A& E after failing to secure an urgent GP appointmen­t and 31 per cent have resorted to private healthcare. One in six practices – 16 per cent – are now operating an internet-only request process for GP appointmen­ts, the survey suggests.

Only 24 per cent still accept walk-in requests for GP appointmen­ts. The NHS GP contract says patients must be able to request an appointmen­t if they attend inperson or contact them by phone or online. But latest figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal one in ten callers are never able to get through.

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, said: ‘The family doctor is becoming an elusive species with many hoops to be negotiated before an audience is finally granted to the patient.

‘So, it is natural that, in desperatio­n, large numbers of older people are turning to private health care or A&E department­s.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘ The NHS published a plan earlier this year to recover access to GP services, which includes upgrading telephone systems to make it easier for people to contact their general practice while more than 31,000 additional staff have joined GP teams since 2019 to deliver even more appointmen­ts.’

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