Nearly a quarter of patients seeking an appointment with their family doctor in North, East and West Devon had to wait a week or more, a survey shows.
Of the GP patients in the Northern, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon CCG who responded to the NHS’s annual GP Survey, 22 per cent had to wait a week or more to see a GP or nurse last time they booked an appointment.
This refers to people booking ahead or for a named doctor, and is a steep increase on five years ago, when just 14 per cent had to wait that long.
However, in the recent survey of patient experience of GP practice services, results for the NEW Devon CCG were above the national average.
The figures showed that 89 percent of patients rated their experience as good; 81 percent said it was easy to get through on the phone to someone at their GP practice; and 83 per cent said they were satisfied with the type of appointment they were offered.
Last year, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, vowed to ensure all doctor’s surgeries would open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, unless they proved there was no demand.
The survey showed only 73 per cent of patients in the NEW Devon CCG are happy with the appointment times available to them.
Three per cent of patients in the area ended up not accepting the last appointment they were offered – more than a quarter of them because there were none available soon enough.
Of those who did not take an appointment, nine per cent went on to visit a hospital A&E – the service which extended GP hours are supposed to be taking the strain off.
NEW Devon CCG said from October, GP appointments will be available locally during the evenings and at weekends.
This will mean an increase in availability of routine and urgent appointments bookable on the same day for Devon patients.
Dr Tim Burke, NEW Devon CCG chairman, said: “We are very proud of the work GPs do locally, and I am pleased that the survey shows that the public feel the same way.
“GPs are often the first point of contact for patients, and they have an important role in patient management, providing ongoing care and treatment for those with chronic diseases and acute illnesses.
“We aim to make patients’ experience as positive as possible, and we will continue to work hard to maintain the high levels of patient care.”