Thousands of patients in Yorkshire were made to wait longer than one month for a GP appointment, analysis reveals, as doctors warn that their workload is spiralling while pressures on the NHS ramp up during the first week of winter.
A total of 3.1m appointments were held at the region’s 682 GP surgeries in October, NHS Digital figures show.
While nearly 1.3m of those, some 41 per cent, took place on the same day as they were booked, about 187,000 patients were forced, or elected, to wait 28 days or longer before they saw a healthcare professional.
The second-highest figure, 599,000, almost one fifth of appointments, were attended within seven days of booking.
Statistics for the region are based on figures logged by practices that fall under NHS England North’s Yorkshire and Humber remit.
They come amid stark warnings from health bosses urging patients to ensure they choose the right care as winter pressures start to take their toll.
Read more: GPs ‘could miss vital patient details in busy winter months'
The NHS earlier this month asked people with minor illnesses to first seek advice from a local pharmacy to relieve the strain on over-stretched GP practices.
GPs 'worred' as workload increases
Today, one of the nation’s leading GPs has raised alarm over family doctors missing important patient details as winter bites.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, warned doctors are now “worried” over what they could have missed.
It is set against a backdrop of the results from a new survey of more than 1,000 GPs working in England, which has found that 89 per cent of GPs feel their workload increases in winter compared to other times of the year.
The Yorkshire Post says: Cold comfort as GP waiting times this increase amid dither and delay
More than four out of five of GPs feel like their workload affects their ability to provide care for patients over the winter.
“From a doctor’s point of view, it is incredibly stressful,” Prof Stokes-Lampard said.
“It’s horrible knowing that all these patients want and need us yet we’ve only got one pair of hands. The thing that causes the greatest stress is not being able to do a safe job, a good job.”
The figures for GP practice appointments
Across Yorkshire, there were 691 GP practices open on the approach to winter in October, of which 682 were included in NHS Digital’s latest GP appointment data publication.
Of the 3.1 million appointments during the month, less than half were taken by GPs.
More than 1.6m were led by another healthcare professional, while the remaining 119,000 are categorised as “unknown”.
Tracy Brabin: We must ensure proper NHS staffing
When it came to how the appointments were held, 83 per cent were face-to-face, 11,600 took place at home and a further 346,000 were telephone slots.
Across the region
Looking across the region, Leeds, owing to its size, held 459,000 GP appointments in October, the data shows.
Two-fifths took place on the same day as booking, but nearly 12 per cent of patients waited at least 22 days for an appointment.
In York, where 165,000 appointments were booked, one third were held on the same day.
Elsewhere, 222,000 appointments took place in Wakefield with 45 per cent – among the highest in the region – held on the day of booking.
In South Yorkshire, Sheffield practices fielded 331,200 appointments, and 47,000 patients waited between 15 and 28 days before being seen. Patients in Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby booked in for 77,553 appointments.
NHS England North declined to comment when contacted by The Yorkshire Post.