The BMA is calling for an inquiry into the causes, consequences and solutions to the extreme pressure on the NHS primary and secondary care services over the last two winters. The call comes as the organisation publishes a new report, NHS Pressures - Winter 2018/19: A hidden crisis, which paints a bleak picture.
When comparing January and February 2019 to January and February 2018, there were 213,000 fewer same-day GP appointments this year. GP appointments involving a wait of over two weeks were up 13 per cent on last year. Appointments involving a wait of over a week rose by 9 per cent and now represent 30 per cent of all appointments. Appointments with a wait of over 28 days are up 15 per cent on the same period last year, reaching 2.23 million.
The BMA says the figures show a primary care service that is suffering the effects of reduced resources and increasing demand. Data presented in the report show the numbers of qualified full-time equivalent GPs has fallen to 28,596, representing “a worrying loss” of 600 GPs in a year. Despite this, the number of registered patients has risen every month since records began in November 2017.
Reflecting the increasing pressure, 87 per cent of GP partners worked or trained outside their regular hours over this winter, according to the BMA.
The report sets out nine “implementable actions” that the association believes would help to relieve these pressures. Among these is a recommendation to establish a select committee inquiry into mounting winter pressure on both primary and secondary care services.