Last week, the leader of the organisation that represents Britain’s family doctors said that intolerably long waiting times to see a GP have become a national disgrace that could endanger people’s health.
Dr Maureen Baker, who chairs the Royal College of GPs, warned that NHS figures showed that one patient in six had to wait more than a week for an appointment to see their doctor.
And she added that this could still hide the true scale of the problem, as we don’t know how many patients simply give up because they cannot get an appointment.
What’s worse, the Chief Inspector of GPs at the Care Quality Commission has warned that up to 160 surgeries up and down the country could be shut down because of “very worrying” problems endangering thousands of patients.
Locally, Labour asked the council to set up the “People’s Commission” to listen to people’s views and experiences of health and social care in Calderdale.
When the commission held a public hearing in Brighouse, several people came along specifically to talk about their concerns and problems in getting to see a GP. Of course, our GPs are not to blame.
The amount of the NHS budget being spent on primary care is continuing to fall – and not enough new family doctors are being trained to take the place of those likely to retire in the coming years.
This is a growing crisis which will affect every one of us unless the Government starts to listen.
By Councillor Tim Swift (Leader of the Calderdale Labour Group)