St Albans patients among 20,000 who waited at least three weeks to see a GP, NHS data reveals

More than 20,000 patients in the Herts Valleys CCG area are waiting at least three weeks for appoint

More than 20,000 patients in the Herts Valleys CCG area are waiting at least three weeks for appointments with a GP. Picture: Anthony Devlin. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

St Albans patients are among more than 20,000 in the Herts Valleys who are waiting at least three weeks to see a GP, new figures reveal.

NHS Digital data shows 21,690 people in the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) had to wait until at least 21 days to see a doctor after booking an appointment in October 2018.

That is nine per cent of all patients and of them, 8,300 waited more than a month. Waiting times were in line with November 2017, the earliest period for which data is available.

The Patients Association said the impact of the waits “should not be understimated”.

The charity’s chief executive Rachel Power said: “It can be incredibly stressful to face a long wait before getting to see a doctor, quite apart from prolonging the length of time someone has to live with the medical issue that is troubling them.

“All of this is a symptom of an NHS running at boiling point all year round.”

Chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, said it was “frustrating” patients were having to wait too long to secure a GP appointment.

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“We want to deliver timely care to patients, in the early stages of illness, to avoid conditions getting worse, when they can be both more distressing for patients, and more costly for the NHS,” she said.

More than a third of patients in Herts Valleys CCG were able to see a GP the same day the appointment was made.

Experts say the figures include patients who need regular appointments and are likely to be booking ahead.

Nationally, 10 per cent of patients waited on average at least three weeks to see a GP in October 18, compared to nine per cent in November 2017.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “GPs are working hard to provide high-quality care to their patients, with over a million appointments booked every weekday in October and 40 per cent of patients being seen on the same day.

“We are also rolling out extended access hours across the country to ensure that patients can find appointments in the evenings and at weekends, making it easier for people to see a doctor, nurse or other health professional at a time convenient to them.”

Across England, doctors see around one million patients every day, with Mondays shown to be the busiest day of the week.