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Overstretched Birmingham GPs turning away patients

Figures show that 14 per cent of patients who tried to get an appointment in the central and south Birmingham last year were unable to see a GP on the day they wanted.

One in seven patients failed to get an appointment with their GP in central and south Birmingham

More than one in seven patients asking for a GP appointment are being turned away in areas of Birmingham - with the problems set to get worse, according to doctors.

The Royal College of General Practitioners said practices were being hit by cuts in funding at the same time as demand for services was shooting up.

NHS figures show that 14 per cent of patients who tried to get an appointment in the central and south Birmingham last year – around one in seven – were unable to see a GP on the day they wanted.

In about half those cases, patients were able to go to a doctor on a different day. Others walked into a hospital A&E department, spoke to a pharmacist or simply didn’t bother seeking advice or treatment.

The figures come from the GP Patient Survey, which is carried out twice a year by the NHS.

They show the performance of each Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the GP-led bodies which are now responsible for commissioning health services. In the area covered by West Birmingham and Sandwell CCG, 17 per cent of patients could not get a GP appointment on the day of their choosing.

Birmingham Cross City CCG, which provides practices across the city, reported 13 per cent of patients, around one in eight, could not get an appointment on the day they wanted.

In Dudley and Solihull the figure was 12 per cent of patients, around one in eight, rising to 13 per cent in Walsall.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said that the number of patients failing to see a GP will increase due to the ongoing cuts in funding for general practice, allied to rapidly growing demand, with general practice now seeing 340 million patients per year.

It said demand for services was soaring, but funding for GPs has fallen by £9.1 billion since 2004/05 in real terms, as cash is targeted at hospitals instead.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The GP Survey showed the vast majority of patients are satisfied with their GP and rated their experience of making an appointment as good.”

 

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