The demand from our patients for appointments each day easily exceeds the capacity that we can safely provide to meet it.
Since long before COVID, Primary Care has been adapting to profound changes in two factors.
1. People are living longer but with more complex health needs.
2. There are fewer GPs relative to the size of the population ( see chart below)
Over recent years GP surgeries have adapted by bringing in new kinds of clinician such as Advanced Nurse Practioners (ANP), Pharmacists, Physiotherapists and Paramedics. These clinicians can see patients whose need lies within their area of expertise leaving more time for the GPs to look after the needs of patients with complex conditions.
Also in the same period of time, more GPs have either retired or dropped their hours ( and some GPs have returned to practice though typically only part-time.)
All of these factors were contributing to a commonly held feeling that it was more diffiucult to see a doctor and uch more difficult to see the same GP consistently.
Since COVID things have got much worse and demand for GP appointments has rocketed.
Its hard to measure demand but it is clear that people have , understandably perhaps, been holding-off from getting help from a GP during the last year and a half and now they are often wanting help on a number of concerns.
Many people are sufferering with health consequences of the COVID pandemic. This can be directly because they have COVID or through conditions related to long-covid or indirectly as a result of the impact of isolation and financial worries on a person's mental health.
These factors are not unique to Ainsdale Medical Centre. They are being felt by every GP practice in the country.
The British Medical Association (BMA) have recently launched a UK wide petition calling on the UK Government to provide the funding and commitment needed to urgently increase the number of GPs, practice nurses and other practice staff and to improve the premises in which they work. You can read more about it here
Dr Ben Allen, a GP in Sheffield, has recorded a helpful short video for his patients which explains some of the changes that are being felt by patients across the country. He has kindly made it available on YouTube
Dr Jon Griffiths, a GP in Winsford, Cheshire has written a good article - What are GPs Actually Doing - published 5th September 2021