Written by

Tim Moulton - Associate, Head of Medical Negligence

Senior Litigation Executive, Tim Moulton believes patient waiting times are more important than ‘deflecting the issue with headline grabbing soundbites.’

For the first time, the average waiting time for a doctor’s appointment is over two weeks.

Subsequently, Tim recognises that longer waiting times are a result of wider healthcare concerns.

To clarify, many of my family have worked or continue to work for the NHS and I believe it is full of many committed professionals.

Moreover, the news about GP waiting times confirms what I hear from many clients; NHS staff are frequently working against the odds.

This inevitably has a detrimental effect on patient safety.

The poll published by Pulse found the average waiting time is now almost 15 days.

As a result, this means more than one in five of the 901 GPs who participated said waiting times for a routine appointment is now in excess of three weeks.

In an interview with the Guardian, Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, said.

“Our patients should be able to see a GP when they need to. The fact that this is becoming increasingly difficult is frustrating for GPs and our teams, as we know it is for them.”

“People are waiting too long for routine appointments, and the concern is that non-serious conditions might deteriorate, or patients give up trying to see the GP and we miss signs of serious illness early when it could be dealt with simply and more cost effectively in primary care.”

However, NHS England dispute the poll’s findings and state the numbers do not tally with official statistics.

Tim concluded.

Whilst there is a conflict between this investigation and the official NHS figures, the background to those figures is unclear.

Above all, it is a patient’s day to day experience of the NHS services that provides the measure of success.

Unfortunately, I had cause to call 999 last weekend for an ambulance.

A recorded message told me they were experiencing a high volume of call.

Consequently, I was on hold for around two and half minutes.

My relative moved from being unconscious and breathing, to stopping breathing and developing a very weak pulse.

Despite this, I could not fault the professionalism of the lady I eventually spoke with and luckily everything worked out.

On the other hand, if my relative had suffered from something as serious as he appeared to be initially, being on hold would not have been much assistance.

Ultimately, valuable time might have been lost to help him.

As with the GP waiting times, this was clearly a resource issue.

However, a number of articles today don’t go far enough in pressing the point that investment in the NHS is lacking.

Additionally, I also believe a more in depth and urgent debate needs to be held.

Is this due to insufficient funding or a wider issue on how funds are invested?

In short, for everyone who relies on NHS services, this is something that needs to be urgently addressed in detail, rather than deflecting the issue with headline grabbing soundbites.

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