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Postcode lottery reveals GP practices where only 1 in 5 gets a personal appointment

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a zip code A GP raffle means some patients are five times less likely to see a doctor in person than others, a study by the Daily Mail reveals today.

Analysis of NHS figures shows huge variation in access, with one practice having fewer than one in six appointments with doctors in the same room, while others have the figure as low as nine in ten.

The Mail is campaigning for GPs to see patients in person again, fearing that the increase in telephone and video consultations has resulted in serious illnesses such as cancer being missed.

The share of face-to-face appointments has fallen from 80 percent before the Covid pandemic to just 57 percent in July.

An important part of our five-point manifesto is an end to the postcode lottery so that everyone can be seen in person, no matter where they live.

Patient groups described the Mail’s findings last night as ‘shocking’ and said they show that some practices have effectively banned face-to-face care.

A GP’s zip code lottery means some patients are five times less likely to see a doctor in person than others, a Daily Mail survey reveals today (file image)

Grandpa’s brain tumor dead after 26 phone calls

David Rowarth died of a malignant brain tumor after trying to see a GP in his operating room for six months.

A total of 26 calls were made after the grandfather’s health began to deteriorate in June last year.

He collapsed at his home in Etching Hill, Staffordshire, in November.

David Rowarth died of a malignant brain tumor after trying to see a GP in his operating room for six months

David Rowarth died of a malignant brain tumor after trying to see a GP in his operating room for six months

Neurosurgeons then found a tumor “the size of an orange” but said 74-year-old Mr Rowarth was too weak for surgery and that he died at home in January.

A relative said the grandfather may have been offered treatment that would have given him more time with his family.

The relative said the retired farm sales manager “was always put through to a pharmacist, nurse or GP to call back”.

Video meetings were reportedly refused — and one doctor who called even suggested the problem might be snoring.

And a GP who called with the results of a blood test was told about the tumor and answered ‘blessing’, the relative said.

The NHS GP survey, which was completed by 850,000 patients, shows huge variation in the chances of being seen by a doctor.

About 90 percent of appointments at Thaxted Surgery, near Saffron Walden in Essex, and Ingleton Avenue Surgery in Welling, South East London, were face-to-face.

But at Maple View Medical Practice in Redditch, Worcestershire, it was just 18 percent.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the variation is “unacceptably high”. She added: ‘It would be reasonable for an older person to assume that they have about the same chance of contacting their GP or practice nurse personally, regardless of where they live.

‘After all, we have a ‘National’ Health Service and equal access is in our DNA.’

And Dennis Reed, of the Over-60s campaign group Silver Voices, said, “It’s not right that a person’s access to health care is determined by where they live. It’s shocking.

‘We often hear from our members that they find it almost impossible to be seen in person by a doctor. This research shows that some surgeries have effectively implemented an almost universal ban on face-to-face care.”

Analysis of NHS figures shows huge variation in access, with one practice having fewer than one in six appointments with doctors in the same room, while others have the figure as low as nine in ten.  In the photo: a woman is waiting for an appointment

Analysis of NHS figures shows huge variation in access, with one practice having fewer than one in six appointments with doctors in the same room, while others have the figure as low as nine in ten. In the photo: a woman is waiting for an appointment

The NHS survey surveyed patients about their primary care experience from January to March this year, and includes data on appointment types for 6,585 surgeries.

It found that 147 practices performed less than one in three of their appointments face-to-face. And only 18 achieved a rate of 80 percent or more.

By region, patients in the Southwest were the most likely to receive a face-to-face consultation, and this was 55.1 percent of the time. Londoners fared the worst, with a figure of just 47.8 percent.

Patients at some of the worst in-person appointment practices yesterday complained about the hurdles they had to overcome before seeing their primary care physician.

Noel Lawrence, 62, said it was “very, very difficult” to get an appointment at Maple View Medical Practice in Redditch.

“Every time you call, there are 30 people in line,” he added. “If you do get through, there are no appointments for that day.”

Patients at Edenfield Road Surgery in Rochdale, where 25 percent of those surveyed were seen in person, said it was difficult to get an appointment. Mark Gaydon, 63, claimed the surgery refused to see him when his leg swelled to twice its normal size. “It was a blood clot and it could have killed me,” he said.

“I was saved because I went to a walk-in center down the street and they diagnosed me.” Gaydon said he is now “reluctantly” contacting the practice. He added: “The prevailing attitude seems to be, ‘How dare you come here?’

Professor Martin Marshall, of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Different areas will have different patient demographics and patients will have different health needs – and individual practices will deliver their care in a way that best meets these.

“It is also true that underinvestment in general practice by successive governments … will affect some areas and practices more than others.”

St Stephens Partnership, which runs the Maple View practice, said staff had worked ‘tirelessly’ through the pandemic, working under national guidance during the survey period.

“Where clinically necessary, personal appointments have been available during the pandemic,” it added.

  • Daily coronavirus cases rose 9.4 percent in a week to 34,526 yesterday, and deaths fell by a fifth to 167, health ministry data showed.

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