Thousands face a struggle to see GP

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Thousands of people across Erewash, including in Ilkeston, are having to wait more than a week to get an appointment to see their doctor, an NHS survey has revealed.

The annual figures show that Erewash has the highest figure in the East Midlands when it comes to the percentage of people struggling to book a slot to see their GP. It is the fifth highest in England.

Almost one in five locals (19.49%), which translates to 18,300 patients, faced a wait of a week or more when they phoned for an appointment in the last year.

Catherine Atkinson, who will stand for Labour in Erewash in the General Election, said she is campaigning for the Government to guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours.

She said: “As a mum I want to know that my child would be able to see a GP quickly. The absolute maximum wait should be 48 hours.

“It is shocking that Erewash seems to be the worst for this in the East Midlands.”

It was also revealed in the survey that Erewash patients struggle to see the doctor of their choice, with 42 per cent agreeing they could only see their preferred GP some of the time or never.

Jenny Whitehead, practice manager at The Old Station Surgery, Ilkeston, said that a lot of the problems are because demands on the GP service are increasing.

“We can’t always see everyone straight away,” she said.

“But if it is of an urgent nature or a patient is unsure how urgent it is, we do have a triage nurse at hand every day.

“And we do try to accomodate people’s wishes regarding preferred doctors as much as possible.”

The NHS Erewash Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) revealed that because people are finding it difficult to get an appointment, they are instead visiting the accident and emergency department (A&E) at hospitals when it is not the best place to be seen.

But Conservative candidate for Erewash at the General Election, and ex-NHS worker Maggie Throup, said recent positive updates to the health service should be focused on and will help the situation.

Following a successful bid for additional funding through the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, local GPs’ surgeries in Erewash are piloting longer opening hours at their surgeries, ensuring local people can get to see their GPs when they need.

Ms Throup said: “The funding will make a real difference for Erewash residents, providing ‘ward rounds’ in care homes as well as making it easier for Erewash residents to see a doctor.”