Wednesday, 1 Feb 2023

GPs deny responsibility for record-breaking A&E delays

‘We are not lazy and are pulling our weight’: GPs hit back after being accused of being responsible for record breaking delays in Accident and Emergency

  • NHS trusts have blamed record-breaking delays in A&E on General Practitioners
  • More than half of people in A&E are not being seen within 4 HOURS of arrival 
  • GPs insist they are seeing more patients than ever and are also under pressure 

GP leaders have condemned the ‘myth’ that a lack of access to family doctors is responsible for record A&E waiting times that are being blamed for causing hundreds of deaths every week.

A number of NHS groups have insisted recently that their emergency departments are being overwhelmed, in large part, because people have nowhere else to go when they are unable to see a GP.

But in a document seen by The Mail on Sunday, family doctors have hit back, claiming A&Es were ‘not overrun with patients needing to be seen by their GP’ and that instead the service ‘had its own pressures’.

It insists that less than one per cent of A&E patients should have visited their GP instead, and that family doctors are providing more appointments than ever.

GPs have defended themselves against claims that they are adding to the Accident and Emergency crisis

Across the country, A&E units have been struggling with the level of demand

The document is part of a fact-sheet supplied to family doctors created by North Staffordshire GP Federation, which represents 70 surgeries. Dr Annamalai Veerappan, chairman of the group, says the intention was for members to share the information with their patients in order to put the record straight on harmful ‘myths’.

Last week, NHS England figures revealed more than half of all patients attending A&E were not seen within four hours – the worst waiting times ever recorded. These delays – combined with the worst ambulance response times on record – are leading to as many as 500 deaths every week, according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

On multiple occasions the college has blamed a lack of access to family doctors for increasingly crowded emergency departments. The Labour Party has made similar claims.

Dr Cat Anderson, a Staffordshire-based GP, says: ‘I saw a patient who was told by a paramedic the reason they had to wait in A&E so long was because “GPs were lazy and not pulling their weight”.

‘This kind of language is absolutely shocking and is creating a warped view.’

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