How good is YOUR GP practice? As five per cent of Britons are forced to wait more than a MONTH to see their doctor, use our interactive tool to check how your practice ranks for number of patients per doctors, face-to-face appointments and waiting times

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Calling your GP practice and getting an appointment on the same day might seem like the bare minimum requirement for a functioning health service.

But waiting a month or more to see a doctor is increasingly common, new analysis shows. One in 20 is forced to wait at least four weeks to see their GP in England. The rate stands closer to one in 10 in the worst-affected parts of the country, which include Gloucestershire and Derbyshire. Some areas, such as the Vale of York, have seen an 80 per cent increase in four-week-long waiting times in just a year.

Here, Mail+ has compiled a host of NHS data to reveal how your GP is performing in the nationwide battle to see a doctor.

The guide will show you how your GP practice ranks in a swathe of appointment access data, including which practices are best for same-day appointments and how many other patients you’re competing with to beat the queues. All data is correct as of November.

To create this comparison, we analysed the numbers of full-time-equivalent (FTE) GPs at the 6,000-plus practices in England and compared it to the number of registered patients.

Comparing the number of FTE GPs provides a more accurate account of the situation at your practice given how many doctors now work part-time.

Health chiefs say a GP to patient ratio above 1,800 could be unsafe as family doctors risk rushing through appointments or becoming exhausted due to their patient case load.

This, in turn, can increase their risk of missing early signs of serious illness among their patients, with potentially devastating consequences.

Our analysis of GP data found more than half (52 per cent) of practices were above the 1,800 patient-to-doctor threshold.

NHS data shows access to same-day appointments varies hugely across the country.

For example, Chartwell Green Surgery in Southampton was the worst offender, with its 3.8 FTE GPs recorded as being unable to provide same-day appointments in November.

Medicus Select Care in Enfield, north London, also struggled, with only 2.9 per cent of its appointments held on the same day in November last year.

Patients struggling to get appointments with a GP will be well-versed in speaking to practice receptionists in a bid to book a slot.

Our GP audit found family doctors were outnumbered by admin staff such as receptionists at a rate of 20-to-one at some practices.

Medicus Select Care in London offers the fewest same day appointment in England

Medicus Select Care in London offers the fewest same day appointment in England

The practices in England offering the most same day appointments

The practices in England offering the most same day appointments

Matrix Medical Practice in Chatham, Kent, had almost 24 FTE admin staff on its books compared to its single FTE GP.

High rates were also seen at JS Medical Practice in north-central London (14 admin staff for every FTE GP) and East Lynne Medical Centre in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex (12.8 admin staff for every FTE GP).

Only 452 GP practices in England (7 per cent of the total) had a one-to-one ratio of admin staff to family doctors or employed more doctors than receptionists.

We also measured what might be one of the most critical indicators of GP practice performance – patient satisfaction.

In its annual survey, the NHS asked 759,000 patients at primary care services about their experience at their GP between January and April last year.

A branch of Medicus Select Care in the London borough of Islington received the lowest overall rating in England, with only 11 per cent of patients considering it ‘good’.

It was followed by Green Porch Medical Partnership in Sittingbourne, Kent (17 per cent), and Compass Medical Practice, a specialist primary care service which treats people who have been removed from other GP patient lists in the Lancashire region (19 per cent).

In total, just 9 primary care services in England achieved a perfect 100 per cent score.

While, overall, 71 per cent of patients rated their GP survey as good, this was the lowest proportion since the survey began in 2017 — when 85 per cent rated their family doctor highly.

A decline in patient satisfaction comes as GP salaries continue to rise.

Family doctors, who usually work around three days a week, pocket six-figure salaries on average.

The struggle to access GP appointments is a complex problem, with doctors themselves reporting being overwhelmed by patient demand.

Under guidelines GPs are told not deliver more than 25 appointments a day to ensure ‘safe care’. But some doctors are reportedly having to cram in nearly 60 in every workday.

Nationally, the doctor to patient ratio also now stands at one per 2,292 — up almost a fifth compared to 2015.

The result is millions of patients being rushed through appointments, which critics have described as being treated like ‘goods on a factory conveyor belt’.

Struggling to access timely GP appointments also has knock-on effects to other aspects of NHS care.

The GP surgeries in England offering the fewest face-to-face appointments

The GP surgeries in England offering the fewest face-to-face appointments

The GP surgeries in England with where 100% of appointments are face-to-face

The GP surgeries in England with where 100% of appointments are face-to-face

 The GP crisis has been blamed, in part, for problems in A&E as desperate patients seek help for issues they haven’t been able to get addressed at an ordinary appointment with the doctor.

Despite the pressures faced in primary care, ministers have quietly ditched a promise to hire 6,000 more GPs, a major part of Boris Johnson’s election-winning manifesto.

As of November last year, there were 27,483 fully qualified FTE GPs working in England.

While this is a rise of 0.3 per cent year-on-year, the total is 400 fewer GPs than that recorded November 2021.

Analysts have stated they believe England needs another 7,400 family doctors to plug gaps in primary care and get patients timely access to it.

But the situation could get even worse in the near future.

Many of the GPs currently working in the system are now retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector because of soaring demand and NHS paperwork.

This exodus risks exacerbating the workload crisis, as the remaining family doctors have to take on more and more appointments, risking burnout.

NHS Digital classifies much of the data used in our analysis as ‘experimental’, a designation meaning it is still undergoing evaluation for quality.

Additionally, as GP practices record much of the data themselves before it is sent to the NHS for collation, this can mean errors occur which influence the results.

SOURCE

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