New study reveals Bedfordshire people have the 4th longest wait for a GP appointment in UK

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A new study by personal injury expert Claims.co.uk has revealed that Bedfordshire patients have one of the longest waits for a GP appointment in the country.

We were only beaten by NHS Gloucestershire, NHS Dorset and NHS Norfolk and Waveney who have it worse than us.

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The study analysed NHS data from England’s 42 Integrated Care Boards (ICB) on GP appointments from July 2021 to December 2023 to identify the one with the longest wait times based on the percentage which took more than 22 days.

NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes is fourth with 7.69% - the area has 91 GP practicesNHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes is fourth with 7.69% - the area has 91 GP practices
NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes is fourth with 7.69% - the area has 91 GP practices

The number of appointments over 22 days at NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes was 474,052, which translates into 7.69% of all appointments.

A spokesperson for Claims.co.uk said: "Reports indicating extensive wait times for GP appointments are troubling. These prolonged waits not only inconvenience patients but also pose potential risks to their health outcomes.”

A spokesperson for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board said: “Data from the 2021 census showed that the population in each of the local authority areas we cover grew much faster than average in the preceding decade, ranging from a 10.9% increase in Luton to 17.7% in Bedford. The population of England grew by 6.6% in the same period.

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“In common with many areas of the country, we have experienced challenges in recruiting full-time GPs to replace those who have retired in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. We presently have over 90 GPs in training roles, some of whom we expect to contribute to improving our GP:patient ratio when they qualify. In supporting the development of primary care, we have encouraged the diversification of its workforce to include more clinically trained paramedics, physician associates, nursing associates and physiotherapists, to increase the number of appointments available. We have invested in enhanced training hubs and professional development opportunities to support this workforce, and are also supporting flexible retirements to provide transitional arrangements which benefit both staff and patients.

“Residents in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes were able to access over 1,400,000 appointments in the three months to September 2023, an increase of more than 94,700 (7.25%) on the equivalent period in 2022. Almost four appointments out of every five were held on a face-to-face basis.”