THOUSANDS of Barnsley patients who are missing out on ‘essential’ face-to-face GP appointments are being left in limbo, according to an MP who has called on the government to step in.
After listening to constituents who are having trouble booking an in-person appointment with their GP, Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid.
The letter outlines the problems local people are facing, such as being told there are no appointments left, or only being offered a phone consultation.
Ms Peacock has demanded an explanation on how the government will make sure physical appointments are available for those who need them.
She also asked the minister to publish figures on whether in-person appointments have become less available since the pandemic, and requested he explain the steps he is taking to ensure local surgeries have the capacity to meet any growth in demand.
“Not being able to access a physical GP appointment is understandably causing people in Barnsley a lot of distress and frustration,” she said.
“For some people, a phone consultation is a helpful option but in some cases, not even this is possible.
“Where people would like to see a GP in person, they should be able to.
“I hope the government will respond to my calls and outline how they will make sure local GPs have the funding necessary so people can access them at the point of need.
“Our NHS needs a recovery plan to tackle waiting lists, to invest in the workers and equipment it needs.
“Instead, the government are prioritising another top-down NHS reorganisation, while we are still dealing with this crisis.
“The Conservatives need to get their priorities straight and start putting patients first.”
The debate comes after Barnsley’s councillors put forward residents’ concerns over GP waiting times and appointments at a scrutiny meeting held last month.
Dr Madhavi Guntamukkala, medical director at Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP, added: “We have seen more people contacting their GPs.
“Getting through on the phone will sometimes take longer at some GP practices at busy times and I know this can be extremely frustrating.
“Some of the things we’ve started to do differently is to ask a few more questions if you are calling to book an appointment.
“That means GPs are able to see people who need that urgent clinical assessment, in the case of people showing signs of possible cancer, for example.”