Health chiefs to discuss delays in GP appointments

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PATIENTS are struggling to get appointments with their GPs because of ‘increasing demand’ and a shortage of doctors.

Access to GP services will be discussed at a meeting of West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) at County Hall in Chichester today (June 11).

Councillors are set to discuss statistics on West Sussex primary care needs – such as GP access – and hear from NHS England about regional health plans.

They will also be looking at a report by Healthwatch West Sussex, which raises issues about waiting times, access, referrals, medication, issues where patients weren’t taken seriously and failure to diagnose patients.

A report by West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group said increasing demand on GP practices is caused by an aging population and ‘changing expectations’ of the public in what a health service should provide.

There are 54 GP Practices in Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group providing services to approximately 500,000 patients.

The CCG has 339 GPs – or 304 whole times equivalent staff – working as partners, salaried, registrars and retainers.

However, the CCG’s report states a failure to recruit GPs is ‘fuelled’ by mounting pressures on all primary care staff.

It states: “GPs are opting to retire early and young doctors are choosing not to join this element of local healthcare, due to the significant pressures on local GP practice doctors.

“In addition, increasing numbers are emigrating to countries such as New Zealand, where workload and conditions are far more reasonable.”

The report said 5,000 doctors are being lost each year from the UK.

The CCG said it needs to find a solution to the ‘pressure’ in the system to meet the needs of our patients and become ‘future proof’.

Margaret Evans, chairman of the committee, said: “Easy access to GP services is really important to local people and we are keen to hear about their experiences of this.

“We all want to make sure residents get the best service and so it will be good to hear about our health partners’ plans over the next five years.”

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