Friday, 17 September 2021

We're too busy to eat or go to toilet, says GP

MOST GPs are so overworked that they don’t have time to eat or go to the toilet while on duty, according to a Wargrave doctor.

Dr Jim Kennedy, a partner at Wargrave Surgery in Victoria Road, says surgeries are close to breaking point because of the pressures on doctors.

He was speaking after the Henley Standard reported that GPs in the area are under pressure due to government funding cuts and growing demand from patients.

One doctor at the Hart Surgery in Henley is quitting the profession due to the pressure of work.

Dr Kennedy, who is also a director at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire local medical committee, said: “GPs are the most stretched I’ve ever seen them — the elastic band is very close to breaking.

“Most GPs spend 12-plus hours a day at work. It’s extremely intensive and most have trouble even finding the time to go to the toilet.

“It’s rare for most to be able to eat properly in their own time. It’s snatching a sandwich at your desk, if even that. There’s a shortage of resources and increasing demand.

“Winter is adding to that but, frankly, even without that demand is almost as high.”

Dr Kennedy said patients in Wargrave could usually be seen on the same day but that all practices needed to look at new ways of treating patients as demand continued to grow.

He said: “In Wargrave, often if you ring in the morning you can see someone in the morning and if you ring in the afternoon you can come in that afternoon.

“We will not be able to continue that level of access if demand keeps rising — we are a finite resource.

“Most practices are trying new ways of doing things. We have a pharmacist working within the practice and are training healthcare assistants and nurses to do more complex work.

“We are trying to equip patients with knowledge of their condition so they can manage it themselves and are less frightened when things happen.

“Patients also need to be sensible in how they use health services.

“For some people this means using it more but for others it means using it slightly less.

“There also has to be recognition of the increasing demands on GPs.

“The percentage of funding from the NHS to general practice has gone down from 11 per cent to 7.6 per cent in six years but I think GPs offer remarkably good value and the services are among the best in the world.”

Earlier this month, the country’s top GP said she was “profoundly concerned” by the pressures facing surgeries, especially in the winter.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said millions of patients were waiting up to four weeks for an appointment, which could put them at “serious risk”.

She said that a delay in seeing a doctor could turn mild illnesses into life-threatening conditions.

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