Lib Dems demand GP rescue plan as one in six left waiting two weeks for appointment 

24 Jul 2023


  • One in six (16.5%) GP appointments had waits of two weeks or more over past year

  • The South West was the worst-affected region with one in five (20%) 

  • Liberal Democrats call for GP rescue plan over summer including campaign to urge retired GPs to return back to work

One in six GP appointments over the past year involved waits of two weeks or more, House of Commons Library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. 

The figures show the length of time between when a GP appointment was booked and when it took place, with data covering the year to May 2023.

The data shows the South West was the worst-affected region with one in five GP appointments taking place two weeks after being booked over the year. Gloucestershire (24.6%) and Dorset (23.6%) were the top two worst areas for two-week waits in the country. This was more than double the 9.2% of two-week waits in Liverpool.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Health Secretary Steve Barclay to launch a GP rescue plan over the summer, including a campaign to urge retired GPs back to the workforce.

It comes after the party's successful by-election campaign iin Somerton and Frome. The newly elected Lib Dem MP Sarah Dyke campaigned hard on the issue of access to GP appointments in Somerset. 

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a new right for patients to see a GP within a week, or within 24 hours if in urgent need. This would be achieved by increasing the number of GPs by 8,000.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey commented:

“The Conservative government’s neglect of our local health services is having real consequences for so many. People unable to get a GP appointment are being left waiting in pain, anxious about when they will get the care they deserve.

“This week the people of Somerton and Frome spoke for the whole country. They are fed up with this failing government and fed up with ministers who just don't get it or don't care.

"Conservative ministers must listen for once and come up with a plan to tackle the GP crisis before Parliament returns. That should include a recruitment campaign over the summer to encourage retired GPs back to work.

"Ministers should also back the Liberal Democrat plan to guarantee everyone a GP appointment within seven days for a first appointment, or 24 hours if it’s urgent. Anything less would be failing patients up and down the country."


Notes to Editors

Full House of Commons Library Research can be found here.

Original Source: NHS - Appointments in General Practice

Note from Library: This measure is not a direct indicator of waiting times for GP appointments. It measures the time between when the appointment was booked and when it took place. This might partly reflect patient preference as well as enforced waits. It also only measures appointments that were booked, so if an appointment was refused for being too far in the future, that wouldn’t be recorded here. The figures also do not show the number of people who tried to get to book an appointment and failed.

Liberal Democrat policy:

  • The Liberal Democrats are calling for a review into access to primary care in rural areas, led by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This would be based on similar reports carried out in the past by the CQC including a 2018 report into urgent primary care services.

  • The Liberal Democrats are also calling for a new right to see a GP within 7 days to be enshrined in the NHS Constitution, putting a duty on the Government and the NHS to ensure it happens. This would be achieved by increasing the number of GPs by 8,000,  through boosting training places, improving retention and launching a campaign to encourage retired doctors and British trained doctors working abroad to return to practice in the NHS. Our approach would take account of appointments intentionally outside the target due for example to expressed patient preference or medical needs.

  • At the last election, the Conservative Party promised 6,000 more GPs – but the number of qualified GPs has actually fallen by more than 900 since then. 




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