“Lancashire needs more GPs” says Healthwatch Lancashire Chair

Healthwatch Lancashire Chairman, Mike Wedgeworth, says that there is clear evidence of a North-South divide, and the county has far fewer doctors than its fair share.

Mike Wedgeworth, Interim ChairmanStatistics from NHS Digital, the national provider of information, data and IT systems for health and social care, show that if you live in Lancashire, your local doctor is likely to have 220 more patients than the national average, and 340 more than practices in the south of England.
Mike Wedgeworth, Chair of Healthwatch Lancashire, says: “This must be one of the reasons why Healthwatch Lancashire’s research is underlining the problems patients face in getting same day and even urgent appointments with their doctor.”

“From seven visits to GPs carried out over the past three months across Lancashire, Healthwatch Lancashire’s findings show an average of 58% of patients said they find it difficult to get same day appointments. Yet on average more than 98% of those very same patients expressed strong support for the staff in the practices.”

“The explanation seems obvious. People value their practice highly, but there is just not enough ‘doctor time’ to go round.”

Doctors waiting areaHealthwatch has listened to patients at practices in Accrington, Brierfield, Nelson, Ormskirk (pictured), Preston, Morecambe and Fleetwood following the launch of a programme of visits to GP surgeries across the county since June 2016.

According to NHS Digital around 90 per cent of patient interaction is with primary care services, such as GPs, yet practices have had only a fraction of the investment that has gone into hospitals in recent years.

In April 2016 Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said “So if anyone ten years ago had said: “Here’s what the NHS should now do – cut the share of funding for primary care and grow the number of hospital specialists three times faster than GPs”, they’d have been laughed out of court. But looking back over a decade, that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Mike Wedgeworth adds: “The Government has promised to provide more GPs and incentives for them to work in areas where the need is greatest. The people of Lancashire both need and deserve this promise to be fulfilled.”

Healthwatch Lancashire has published reports from the visits to the GP surgeries which are available to read or download here