Need instant care? Try your local vet! Pets have more of a chance of getting treatment within hours than their owners booking same-day GP appointments, Mail on Sunday analysis finds
- It’s easier to find instant vet care for pets than book same-day GP appointments
- There is a 39 per cent chance of a same-day GP appointment across England
- The low availability of GP appointments has become a political football
It is easier to find instant veterinary care for pets than to book same-day GP appointments, analysis by The Mail on Sunday has revealed.
In the worst-performing GP areas, there is a one in three chance of seeing a doctor the day you phone the surgery. But in all of them, we found that a cat can be treated by a vet within hours.
Figures produced by NHS Digital show that 15 Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), covering areas as diverse as Merseyside, Essex, Devon and Hull, offered a 31.2 to 35.2 per cent chance of a same-day GP appointment.
Across England, the overall figure was little better, with just a 38.9 per cent chance.
In the worst-performing GP areas, there is a one in three chance of seeing a doctor the day you phone the surgery. File image: GP checking a patient’s blood pressure
This low availability has now become a political football.
Last month Labour claimed that serious health conditions were going undiagnosed by GPs ‘until it’s too late’. The party wants tax breaks for wealthy foreigners, so-called non-doms, to be abolished – with the money generated used to train a new generation of GPs.
But Tory MP Selaine Saxby, whose North Devon constituency falls within one of those 15 worst ICBs, said some patients needed to ‘embrace other ways of seeking health support’, by using pharmacists, 111 or NHS online.
‘Services do need to improve,’ she added. ‘But GPs do a fantastic job under immense pressure.
‘While it’s hugely frustrating if you can’t see a doctor, the more GP-bashing that goes on, the harder it becomes to retain and recruit them.
‘Labour goes on about abolishing non-dom tax status to pay for training but it’s more complicated than that. There’s no quick fix to training a GP.’
Meanwhile, doctors’ groups dismissed the notion that the availability of GP and vet appointments were comparable.
There is a 39 per cent chance of a same-day GP appointment across England. File Image: A man at a medical appointment
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Treating people is very different to treating cats, and running NHS GP practices is very different to running veterinary practices, which in the main are private, paid-for services.
‘GPs and our teams are under intense workload pressures, but are seriously short-staffed.
‘Practices delivered 32.9 million appointments in November with more than 41 per cent taking place on the day they were booked.’
The Department of Health and Social Care said that at least £1.5 billion was being invested in general practice to add 50 million annual appointments by 2024 – and that GP training places had increased from 2,671 in 2014 to 4,032 in 2022, with record numbers of doctors joining.
‘This year GP teams have delivered 80,000 more appointments every working day compared to 2021,’ said a spokesman.