Labour urges government to wake up to crisis engulfing NHS
LABOUR urged the government to wake-up to the full-scale crisis engulfing the NHS as overstretched GPs warned of serious risks to patients due to extended waits for appointments.
In a statement published this morning, Royal College of GPs chairwoman Helen Stokes-Lampard said she was profoundly concerned about how GPs would cope this winter amid reports that some patients could wait weeks to see their family doctor.
She warned: “It’s not just A&E that sees peaks in workload. Every peak that you see in A&E is magnified in primary care just through the scale.”
She said that “something has to give” in a service already on the ropes and warned that there could be serious consequences for delays to GP appointments.
“If you’ve suddenly developed a lump or you’ve got a funny pain somewhere, you know it’s not desperately urgent for you to see your GP today — but you’d like to see a GP within a few days, because you’re worried,” Mr Stokes-Lampard said.
“My profound concern is that people will delay seeking help for things that could potentially be life-threatening or life-changing if they are not tackled swiftly.”
And she said that the country has a service “already stretched desperately thin. What you’re left with is goodwill and professionalism being all that’s left holding it together.”
Shadow health minister Julie Cooper called the situation “extremely worrying.”
She said: “The government needs to wake up to the fact that there is a full-scale crisis in the NHS at every level.
“We have heard a lot about the shortage of beds and waiting times in accident and emergency departments, but there has been little acknowledgment of the pressures facing GP surgeries.
“The truth is that they are overwhelmed by ever-increasing demand. Add to this a chronic shortage of GPs and a crisis in recruitment and the result is a service that is at breaking point.”
She added that the government ignored the advice of medical professionals at its peril.
An NHS England spokesman said GP services are on track to receive an extra £2.4 billion investment by 2020.