New data from the NHS has shown that more people are waiting a month for a GP appointment than at any time since when records began in 2017. 2,623 people in Tower Hamlets faced a wait of 28 days or more to see a GP in October alone. A further 15,809 people had to wait more than two weeks.

Almost two million people in England had to wait more than 28 days in October, while a further 4.3 million had to wait more than two weeks.  At the same time, the number of GPs has fallen to a record low, leaving patients in a desperate scramble to be seen. Since 2013, 4,600 GPs have been cut.

The Labour Party’s plan will see patients guaranteed a face-to-face appointment with a GP if they want one. While some patients prefer to hold appointments over the phone, many are frustrated at not being able to see their doctor in person, and just 22% of patients are given a choice in the type of appointment they have. One in seven people who try to speak to a nurse or GP were unable to get an appointment at all last year.

Tower Hamlets Labour raised a motion to present at Tower Hamlets Council in October on the important issue of GP access in the borough. The motion called on the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to urgently bring forward a plan to fix the crisis in primary care and ensure the Council works with the local NHS trust to ensure Tower Hamlets residents have full access to their GP and dentist. However, despite submitting this motion for both October and November Full Council meetings, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and his Aspire Councillors refused to extend either meeting to consider this important issue affecting thousands of local residents.

Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Amy Lee, said:

“Patients in Tower Hamlets are finding it impossible to see a GP when they need to, and the new data that 2,623 people in Tower Hamlets faced a wait of 28 days or more to see a GP in October alone is truly shocking. There is a huge risk of conditions being undiagnosed until it is too late.

“Tower Hamlets Labour Group proposed a motion earlier this year at a meeting of the Full Council to call on both the Government and the Council to work with local NHS trusts to ensure every Tower Hamlets resident has access to a GP and a dentist. This is especially needed now as the Cost of Living Crisis continues to have a devastating impact on people’s health and mental wellbeing. Our motion has still not been heard, and our residents deserve better.”

Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:

“GP access is a vital issue for local residents, however Mayor Rahman and his Aspire Group has again put party politics over the local residents’ interests and has continually made sure the Tower Hamlets Labour Group’s motion was not heard.

“Now this local data has confirmed our worst fears, both Aspire and the Government need to focus on working with our local NHS trusts to ensure all of our residents have early and quick access to a GP. A Labour administration and a Labour Government would provide that.”

Notes:

  • 1,911,538 people in England had to wait more than 28 days for an appointment in October, while a further 4,328,359 people had to wait more than two weeks. Table 3d

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/appointments-in-general-practice/october-2022

  • Constituency level data has been compiled from the practice level data also provided by the NHS

Annex 1 – Appointments in General Practice – October 2022: Practice Level Summary

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