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3.7 million patients paid to see a private GP in the last two years amid concerns about face-to-face spaces

3.7 million patients have paid to see a private GP in the last two years amid growing concerns about a lack of face-to-face spaces with NHS doctors

  • A YouGov survey found that 7 percent have used private health care in the past two years.
  • 1.6 million used paid GP services for the first time if the survey is extended
  • Campaigners believe many are desperate patients unable to get help from the NHS
  • More than three-quarters of GP appointments were face-to-face before Covid, and that figure fell to just 47 per cent in April 2020; now it is only 60 percent.

Large numbers of patients turn to the services of private GPs as they struggle to access appointments with family doctors.

As many as 1.6 million paid to see a GP for the first time in the last two years, amid growing concerns about a lack of face-to-face spaces with NHS doctors.

A YouGov survey found that 7 per cent of Britons had used a private GP service online or in person in the last two years, suggesting 3.7 million adults did so in total.

While 4 percent had used a private service before, 3 percent said they had done so for the first time in those two years. This means that potentially 1.6 million people have used the services of paid GPs for the first time, if figures from the survey of 1,755 Britons commissioned by The Times are expanded.

Only 60 per cent of GP appointments are in person, compared to 80 per cent before Covid

Only 60 per cent of GP appointments are in person, compared to 80 per cent before Covid

Campaigners believe many of those who become deprived are desperate patients unable to access the care they need on the NHS.

Around 80 per cent of GP appointments were face-to-face before the Covid pandemic, but this dropped to just 47 per cent in April 2020 and is still only around 60 per cent.

Patients are more dissatisfied than ever with GP services, with just 38 per cent saying they were happy with GPs in last year’s British Social Attitudes Survey, the lowest level since the surveys began in 1983.

Dennis Reed of Silver Voices, who campaigns for older people, said of the survey results: ‘GPs are in a crisis right now.

‘The trusted NHS, which was always there for us, is no longer what it used to be. The number of people seeking help from a private GP seems to be astronomical.

“It is extremely concerning as many people cannot afford this private option and should not have to. It’s more worrying for those who can’t afford to be private and can’t get a face-to-face appointment.’

Nearly half of GPs have said they would consider going private for an online service, based on a sample of 823 GPs, according to Pulse magazine. It comes after the number of full-time, fully qualified GPs fell 4.6 per cent from 29,112 in June 2017 to 27,769 in March this year.

Meanwhile, analysis of GP opening hours data from the NHS website reveals that 12 per cent of surgeries closed during the lunch hour, and in some cases were open for just half a day every day. of the week.

The research, conducted by The Times, was based on 2,115 general practices that have updated their reception hours since 2020.

Under a new contract that will take effect in October, doctors will have to offer appointments until 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Dr Shaima Villait, of private GP Chelsea Medics, said the biggest growth was in video services offering one-off appointments for urgent problems like tonsillitis.

She said: ‘Patients like… to see the same GP and someone who knows their family and history.

‘We can offer that care from the cradle to the grave.’

Professor Martin Marshall, President of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We share our patients’ frustrations when they face long waits for appointments, and GPs and our teams work incredibly hard to minimize these waits.”

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