A&E DEPARTMENTS already at breaking point are having to cope with another six million people a year because of delays in getting GP appointments, researchers warned yesterday.
Imperial College London experts said that more than a quarter of visits to English A&E departments could be down to difficulty getting a spot at a surgery.
Their study, based on the 2012-13 GP patient survey, showed that 1.67 per cent of people who tried and failed to get an appointment with a GP ended up going to A&E.
That rate worked out to almost 5.8 million A&E visits in 2012-13 — 26.5 per cent of the total.
The British Medical Association (BMA) warned recently that two-week waits for routine appointments with family doctors could soon become commonplace.
“There are not enough GPs and other staff available to treat the sheer number of people coming through the surgery door,” said BMA GP committee deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey.
“We need politicians to realise that there needs to be long-term, sustained investment in GP services, including an expansion in the number of GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals working in the community.
“This is not a problem that is going away. We need urgent action.”
Director of commissioning policy and primary care at NHS England, Ben Dyson said: “A major programme of work to help transform GP services, including patient access, has begun, including the Prime Minister’s £50 million Challenge Fund.”