Shock rise in GP waiting times

1 Mar 2024

Somerset saw a 49% rise in four-week waits for GP appointments last year compared with 2022, House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The NHS data measures the time between when the appointment was booked and when it took place. It showed that the number of appointments that saw patients wait two weeks or longer in Somerset has spiked by 22% to 781,025 in 2023, up from 639,654 the previous year.

It means the proportion of appointments where a patient waited two weeks or longer in Somerset has risen to 21% up from 18.6% in 2022.

Taunton and Wellington’s Liberal Democrats have criticised the Conservative government for letting the community down with their neglect of local health services.

The Lib Dems are calling for a legal right to get a GP appointment within seven days, or 24 hours if in urgent need.

The policy would enshrine this right in the NHS Constitution, putting a duty on the government and health service to make sure it happens. It would be achieved by increasing the number of GPs and increasing the number of nurses and pharmacists fully qualified to prescribe day to day medicines.

Gideon Amos, the party’s Parliamentary candidate for Taunton and Wellington, said: “Far too many people in Somerset are struggling to get a GP appointment when they need one.

“It’s causing people huge anxiety because they can't be confident any more of getting the care they need.

“Just like the Conservatives’ abandoned promise to give Taunton a new hospital by 2030, this shows our community has been totally abandoned by this government when it comes to local health services.

“Being able to see a GP should not be too much to ask, but even on this measure people are being failed after years of neglect by this Conservative government.

“That is why the Liberal Democrats have a funded plan to recruit and train 8,000 more GPs so we can achieve the right to see their GP within seven days.”