Health crisis: long delays for residents waiting for GPs, ambulances and A&E
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats
A recent Liberal Democrat survey has found that Bedford Borough residents are facing extreme waiting times for GP appointments, ambulances and at A&E. Of the residents who responded to each question:
- 60% said they were on hold for over 15 minutes when trying to book a GP appointment
- 58% said they waited over a week for a GP appointment
- 41% said they waited over an hour for an ambulance to arrive
- 41% said they wait over 6 hours at A&E
The results of the survey are indicative of a health service in crisis. Earlier this year figures revealed that the number of patients per GP across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) had grown to over 2,700 - the 6th worst figure in the country. Since 2015 the number of GPs in the region has fallen by over 10% and this is reflected nationally despite a Conservative government promise to hire an extra 6,000 GPs by 2024.
On the GP crisis, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health Councillor Wendy Rider said "Enough is enough. People across Bedford Borough are struggling to get appointments to access the vital care they need. Meanwhile, GPs are dealing with immense amounts of pressure and simply cannot meet the demand. I'm deeply concerned with the number of people whose health may be damaged by long waits to see a doctor."
As the survey results suggest, it is not just primary care that is suffering. The ambulance service is close to breaking point. Last November, figures showed that the average response time for Category 2 calls (emergency calls involving a serious condition) was 52 minutes - almost three times the 18-minute government target. Since then all ten ambulance services in England have declared a "critical incident" following the additional pressures of this month's heatwave.
Portfolio Holder for Adults Services Councillor Dean Crofts said "The health service and help with funding for adult social care has got worse since 2015. This Conservative government through underfunding and mismanagement has got us to this point where services are now on their knees. Ambulances are left waiting to hand over patients with hospitals also struggling to cope, leading to long delays for people in critical conditions. We have a health service in crisis, from primary GP provision all the way up to emergency care. This cannot go on and the government should act now, but instead they seem to have taken the summer off for internal debate which is failing to even mention any genuine solutions for the health and care system."
The Liberal Democrats are campaigning for a fair deal for Bedford Borough with an increase in the number of GPs in the area to provide improved access for those in need. If you would like to join the campaign please sign the Liberal Democrat petition at https://bedfordlibdems.org.uk/en/petition/gp-shortage. It's also not too late to have your say on the survey - please visit https://bedfordlibdems.org.uk/en/survey/nhs-waiting-times-survey.