New figures from the government reveal that half of patients have to wait longer than two days to see their GPs.
In 2010, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley scrapped a target that said that everyone should be seen by their GP within 48 hours, saying it had no clinical justification.
But the latest GP Patient Survey of 855,000 patients, commissioned by the Department of Health, showed that just 36 per cent of patients spoke to their GP on the day they called.
Another 14 per cent were seen or spoken to the next working day, meaning only half got through to their doctor within 48 hours.
More than one in eight was unable to get an appointment until the following week.
The survey also found that one in eight patients has no faith in their out-of-hours doctor. Only 39 per cent trusted them completely, while another 43 per cent had confidence in them ‘to some extent’.
Joyce Robins, of pressure group Patient Concern, said: ‘It’s very unsatisfactory that half of patients are waiting longer than two days. In my own practice we have only one doctor who works full time, the remaining three are part-time and only seem to be available for a few hours on certain afternoons. Many surgeries also employ locums who only work a few days a week.
‘The average practice has 12,000 patients on its books, so clearly there are just too few GPs. It means that if you happen to have something seriously wrong, you may well be severely ill by the time you see your GP.’
Last week it was revealed that nine in ten GP surgeries were letting patients down on their opening hours.
Unless you pay to see a private GP, everyone in the UK- even those with health insurance- have to see their local GP before being referred to private treatment.
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