-Percentage of GPs able to provide urgent appointments within three hours almost halved
– Patient Waiting times increased for both Urgent and Routine Appointments
– Resources needed to battle increasing patient waiting times in general practice
– Patient waiting times increasing at a rapid rate compared to five years ago
– Waiting times in Hospitals symptomatic of the overall crisis in Health

According to a survey of GPs carried out by the NAGP, patient waiting times are rapidly increasing year on year.

In the survey carried out this month, only 32% of GP respondents were able to provide an urgent appointment in less than three hours. This compares to 60% of surveyed GPs in October 2015 who were able to facilitate an urgent appointment in less than 3 hours. Five years ago, 73% of urgent appointments were seen within three hours, according to those surveyed.

Dr. Andrew Jordan, NAGP Chairman, commenting on the results said, “GPs are struggling to meet the needs of patients as the crisis in General Practice escalates. General practice delivers 22 million consultations every year, projected to increase to 33 million within five years. The increase in patient waiting times in the last year is directly related to the increase in the number of Medical Card patients, now approaching 50% of the population since the introduction of the under-6s scheme. A further 50,000 patients were added when the over-70s scheme was introduced. Meanwhile, €980m has been taken out of general practice. Resourcing is inadequate. We are seeing a direct impact on waiting times, both for family doctors and hospital consultants”.

According to the NAGP survey, patients are also waiting longer for routine appointments. Currently, 25% of GPs said their patients can get a same-day routine appointment. However, in 2015, 35% were able to provide a same day appointment for a routine issue. Five years ago, 63% of GPs were able to provide same day routine appointments.

The National Association of GPs have proposed the ring-fencing of €500 million a year for five years to properly resource a GP-led primary care system. We know that for every €1 spent in Primary Care, saves €5 in the rest of the Health Service. We need to change the approach to how the problems in the health care system are addressed.

Dr. Jordan concluded, “GPs have long been warning the Government and the HSE about the impact their increasing workload is having on patients. An increasing workload, coupled with stark cuts in resources under FEMPI, have brought General Practice to breaking point. This simply cannot continue in the interests of patient safety. It is heartening to hear the Minister for Health acknowledged the need to resource GPs but there is an urgent need to put these words into action”.