In the period to September 2013 Healthwatch Kirklees recorded 231 service user comments about difficulties in accessing doctors appointments. This issue received widespread coverage in the local and national media.
Access to GP appointments has been the defining issue for Healthwatch Kirklees since the service started in April 2013; negative comments have been regular and unending. The issue of access to GP appointments is not unique to Kirklees and is a concern nationally.
Between 1995 and 2008, the number of patient consultations rose by 75%, from 171 million to more than 300 million.
Primary Care, Urgent Care, Care Closer to Home programmes and changes to GP contracts will all impact on how GP services are delivered in future.
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) in Kirklees are well aware of the issue and are working hard to put measures in place to address the problems.
There is evidence of GP’s in Kirklees using innovative ways of working which are proven to work well. This work will be championed by Healthwatch Kirklees.
Healthwatch Kirklees recognises the pressure that GP’s are under, and the increasing demands on their time. We’re encouraged by both CCG’s willingness to engage on this issue, and believe that all stakeholders are keen to see more accessible services. We’re really encouraged by pilots like the triaging approach used in Cleckheaton, and the results that are being seen there. Healthwatch Kirklees believes that the best way for us to support changes that address the issue of appointments is to support both CCG’s and practices who have looked at new ways of working. We will revisit this issue in 6 months’ time, in Summer 2014 to see what has changed.
You can read a full copy of the report here