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Nearly a quarter of Britons tried and failed to see GP in 2023, Lib Dems say

Almost a quarter of Britons tried and failed to see their GP face to face in 2023, the Liberal Democrats have claimed (File image/PA)
Almost a quarter of Britons tried and failed to see their GP face to face in 2023, the Liberal Democrats have claimed (File image/PA)

Almost a quarter of Britons tried and failed to see their GP face to face in 2023, the Liberal Democrats have claimed.

Some 23% could not get an appointment in their local area, while three in 10 gave up on booking one altogether, according to a poll commissioned by the party.

Many turned to “DIY” medical help or went to A&E instead, with one in seven treating themselves or asking someone else to do so and the same number seeking emergency care, the Lib Dems said.

Sir Ed Davey said the figures are “utterly depressing” and should serve as an “urgent wake-up call for ministers asleep on the job.”

The poll was carried out by Savanta, which interviewed 2,226 UK adults in December about their experience with GP services over the last 12 months, with data then extrapolated to Britain at large.

One in five people bought medication online or at a pharmacy without advice from a GP and one in three delayed seeing a doctor despite being in pain, it suggests.

The Lib Dems have called for a new legal right to see a GP within seven days in an early version of their manifesto, which they say will be fully costed at a later date.

Its focus is on local health services and the environment, which the party believes are crucial to woo traditionally Conservative voters in places like southern England as Britain enters an election year.

Sir Ed said: “This is scandalous and must act as an urgent wake-up call for ministers asleep on the job. People pay their fair share in tax and expect basic local health services, yet it is utterly depressing to see Brits turning to DIY medical treatment. The record of this Conservative government on the NHS is shameful.

“Face-to-face GP appointments have become almost extinct in some areas of the country.

“Patients are left suffering in pain after years of neglect under the Conservative Government, who have repeatedly broken their promise to recruit more GPs.

“Liberal Democrats would guarantee people a right to a GP appointment within one week so people can get the care they deserve. This would reduce pressure on our hospitals and paramedics, saving crucial time and money elsewhere in the NHS.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are making it easier for patients to see and contact their GP. There are now 44 more appointments on average per working day in every GP practice compared to October 2019 and the Government has met its manifesto commitment to deliver 50 million more appointments a year.

“We are improving access to GP services by cutting bureaucracy, expanding community pharmacy and funding new digital systems for practices under our primary care recovery plan. Our NHS long term workforce plan includes a plan to train hundreds of thousands more staff including GPs over the next 15 years.”