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GP surgeries in Redbridge ‘worst in London’, patients’ survey finds

PUBLISHED: 07:32 12 March 2015 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 March 2015

A GP checking a patient's blood pressure.

A GP checking a patient's blood pressure.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

One in five patients in Redbridge are waiting “far too long” to see their GP – the highest in London.

Tal Ofer, 35, of Hainault

Mr Ofer said he approached his local surgery for an appointment but was told he would have to wait a further nine days to see a GP about the severe pain he was experiencing in his ankle.

He said: “I pay my taxes, and my national insurance which fund the NHS, and it is simply not acceptable that you would have to wait that long for an appointment.

“I am in a lot of pain with my ankle and I can’t put any weight on it. I am worried something is really wrong. I should be given an appointment sooner than nine days, this isn’t a third world country.”

Mr Ofer also has a three-year old daughter who had to wait four days for an appointment when she was suffering from a high temperature.

“We had to take her to the hospital in the end, because we couldn’t take the risk with our child’s health. This is a systematic and very serious problem, that could have life-threatening consequences for children”, he said.

And only 60pc of patients said they were able to book an appointment or speak to someone, also the worst in the capital.

A London Assembly report published this month said better GP care reduced A&E usage, leading to huge financial savings. A patient staying in hospital one day costs ten times more than a year’s treatment with a GP.

BHRUT (Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust) has consistently failed to meet A&E waiting time targets, recording its worst quarter in the past five years at the end of 2014.

Roger Evans, London Assembly Member for Redbridge, said GP services could not match population growth in the borough.

“The bottom line is that people do have to go somewhere when they are ill,” he said. “If we do not make it a priority to sort out the problems accessing GP care in the borough, there will be no real alternative for people and what you’ll have is a continued overloading on A&E services.”

The latest figures, taken from NHS England’s GP Patient Survey published in January, also show fewer patients in Redbridge had a “good” overall experience of surgeries than in any other borough at 74pc, compared to 87pc in Richmond and Sutton which topped the list.

Redbridge was one of six boroughs in London granted new powers to directly manage its own GP services.

Healthbridge, a new federation of GPs, launched an evening and weekend appointment scheme in December, based from a “hub” at Newbury Park Health Centre.

Dr Anil Mehta, chairman of Redbridge CCG, said improving access to GPs was a top priority.

“Our ambition is not just to reduce appointment waiting times, but to give patients better, more innovative care more tailored to their individual needs,” he said.

The Assembly report Access to GP Care estimated more than 16,000 GPs will be needed in London by 2021, with the number of new trainees falling short of the government’s national target of 3,250 a year.

Growing numbers are taking early retirement and emigrating, the report found.


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