London’s Accident and Emergency units were put under unnecessary pressure last year, with more than 150,000 patients who turned up not GP-registered at the time.
With the majority not requiring emergency care, this put incredible strain on the capital’s A&E departments and staff, further highlighting how big an issue access to primary care has become in the United Kingdom. A&E departments continue to spiral into further trouble, slipping further from its 4 hour waiting time target.
A leading GP has stated that if the entire population of London were to register with their local clinic, the health service would struggle to cope. Figures obtained by the BBC through a Freedom of Information request show that 153,564 patients who turned up to A&E in London last year were not registered with a doctor, but realistically, this number is undoubtedly higher due to some NHS Trusts not recording their attendance figures.
These remarkable findings from the BBC further justify the claims that we at Now GP have been making for some time: that a lack of access to primary care services has direct negative impact on the levels of pressure felt by our country’s A&E departments. It is only through providing patients with a suitable alternative to primary healthcare, such as our telehealth platform, that will begin to alleviate some of this pressure.
Our on-the-go society, and particularly those in London, require a more flexible and accessible solution to healthcare – young professionals and those with busy lifestyles simply don’t have the time to register at a local clinic and wait a week to be seen by a doctor. London’s fluid population sees many people come and go at a quick rate as they move in and around the city for work, with many either choosing not to register with a GP or finding themselves unable to do so due to a lack of availability.
“Lack of access to primary care services has a direct negative impact on the levels of pressure felt by our country’s A&E departments.”
When people fall ill, many will invariably head straight to A&E, and often their arrival at the hospital is the first point of contact they will have had with their local health service since arriving in the area. The average waiting time to see a GP is as high as two weeks in certain areas of the capital – people are unwilling to wait this long with a primary care concern, which is why we are seeing the nation’s A&E units begin to crack under pressure.
A story broken by Sky News this morning said that senior medics have warned that A&E units are facing a “perfect storm” this winter, with a junior doctor’s strike coupled with a lack of staff meaning that the nation’s Accident and Emergency departments could be in crisis during the height of the winter flu season. Hospitals are already reporting a rise in patients needing emergency care much earlier in the autumn than would be normal.
A London-based GP and author, Dr Youssef El-Gingihy, has long spoken publicly about some of the NHS’s major flaws. He claims that the proportion of the NHS budget going to general practice is continuing to drop alarmingly, at a time when demand for services continues to rise. Over a quarter of walk-in centres in the capital have closed since 2010, with patients forced to head to A&E units for lack of a better alternative.
Through Now GP, we are attempting to provide those in London and beyond with access to primary care with no waiting times and no hassle. We connect those in need to a MRCGP-certified doctor via live video call, and deliver medicines to their door in as little as two hours in central London. Telehealth solutions such as ours offer the NHS a much-needed lifeline, and patient by patient we are determined to ease pressure on our nation’s A&E departments and make waiting times and doctor unavailability a thing of the past.