Health & Lifestyle

GPs ‘waste 15MILLION appointments a year’

GPs waste 15MILLION appointments a year dealing with chaotic breakdowns in communication between their own surgery and hospitals, report claims

  • Patients are forced to return after getting trapped in a ‘referral black hole’

GPs waste 15million appointments a year dealing with chaotic breakdowns in communication between their surgery and hospitals, a damning report reveals.

Patients are forced to return to their family doctor after getting trapped in a ‘referral black hole’ or are ‘shunted from pillar to post’, unclear who is responsible for their care.

The Policy Exchange think tank said the NHS must do more to manage care at the ‘interface between GP service and hospitals’.

It warns up to 150,000 people are in limbo, on ‘hidden’ waiting lists, after being referred to a consultant but not being added to their files.

Patients are forced to return to their family doctor after getting trapped in a 'referral black hole' or are 'shunted from pillar to post', unclear who is responsible for their care

Patients are forced to return to their family doctor after getting trapped in a ‘referral black hole’ or are ‘shunted from pillar to post’, unclear who is responsible for their care

It means they risk falling through the cracks, with their condition deteriorating without medical supervision.

Others are at risk of harm after being discharged from hospital into the care of a GP without proper medicine checks, or when test results and scans go missing.

More than two million patients each year having to make four or more visits to their GP before a referral is accepted, the report named ‘Medical Evolution’ notes.

It cals for the development of hybrid doctor roles – ‘interface specialists’ – able to work more routinely across hospitals and GP practices.

Report author Dr David Landau said: ‘For too long the interface has been neglected as a key site of activity, and not proactively managed.

‘Policy Exchange’s proposals – which include the development of dedicated roles, operating across the interface – look to ensure more people can access specialist support with a shorter wait and closer to home.

‘Crucially, we want to see GPs recognised as specialists in their own right, and to draw more research activity into primary and community care.’

GPs say their surgeries are overwhelmed due to the pressures of the rising and ageing population, a lack of government funding and a shortage of doctors. NHS statistics show there were 27,231 full-time equivalent fully qualified GPs working in the NHS in England, as of April 2023. Full time equivalent terms equate to 37.5 hours a week

GPs say their surgeries are overwhelmed due to the pressures of the rising and ageing population, a lack of government funding and a shortage of doctors. NHS statistics show there were 27,231 full-time equivalent fully qualified GPs working in the NHS in England, as of April 2023. Full time equivalent terms equate to 37.5 hours a week

Graph shows the ratio of GP patients to practices since 2015, with an average of 9,755 patients per surgery in May 2023

Graph shows the ratio of GP patients to practices since 2015, with an average of 9,755 patients per surgery in May 2023

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