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£1.5 bn worth of Surgery Funding Cuts Expected by 2017
3 April 2014
A new report has painted a worrying picture of a future NHS stricken by heavy funding cuts for GP surgeries with funding failing to rise in line with rising volumes of appointments required by an ageing population and patients in general.
The final result could be a sky rocketing in the number of GP appointments required from patients with an accompanying lack of both availability and funding for surgeries to deal with those patients; the worst case scenario being that appointments will be endlessly delayed and postponed and conditions like cancer, for example, going for long periods undiagnosed and untreated.
GP appointment demand will skyrocket
Mistreatment.com has dealt with medical negligence enquiries where GP appointments have resulted in delays which seriously impact on diagnosis times for such ‘silent killers’ meaning the difference between a prompt Stage 1 diagnosis for different forms of cancer and a late diagnosis in Stage 3 when the condition becomes extremely serious and untreatable. Such changes to GP funding and cuts as described above can only exacerbate pressure on the appointment system, jeopardising patient rights and could even unfortunately lead to more misdiagnosis claims for medical mistreatment and neglect.
The report was initially leaked to the Mirror newspaper and takes the year 2017 as a point of reference where a growing and ageing population will need some 69 million more appointments than they currently require now-a rise of some 69 million appointments in three years.
£1.5 bn worth of surgery cuts by 2017
If GP surgeries have this essential funding taken away-in the region of some £1.5 billion worth of Tory cuts according to the document-patients will be forced to wait much longer to see their GP, leading to inevitable harm if conditions like cancer, heart conditions or lung diseases go unchecked and undiagnosed.
A top doctor-Dr Maureen Baker-has warned that these extended waiting periods will seriously place patients’ health at risk if the cuts to surgeries are phased in between now and 2017. The leaked document contends that not only would the Tory cuts eliminate much needed GP funding to surgeries but that the demand for appointments would hugely increase by 69 million a year from this point onwards until 2017 when GP surgeries need to be able to deal promptly with 409 million appointments in total-the risk being that an inevitable backlog will develop.
"This is extremely worrying"
It is the ‘sleeping killers’ that Dr Baker is most concerned about; conditions like cancer, lung disease, diabetes which afflict patients and who, frustrated with a backlog of GP appointments, give up altogether on an appointment. Their conditions unfortunately then worsen only for a diagnosis to come far too late.
Dr Baker, head of the Royal College of GPs, said: “This is extremely worrying as it will mean we can’t prevent things or pick up diseases at an early stage and patients will be harmed.
“Investment in general practice has already been cut to the bone and these projections show by the middle of the next Parliament, general practice will be teetering on the brink.
"If general practice is run on a shoestring, waiting lists will inevitably get even longer and standards of care will fall.”
Waiting lists to get even longer
GP surgeries are in dire need of cash injections for funding which will in turn cut waiting times and provide more flexible opening hours and they have approached Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to provide this much needed funding. However, it is a financial report by consultancy firm Deloitte that is now warning that general practice funding is not moving in this direction, and will instead fall by 17% by 2017. Their findings corroborate what many members of the public have told Mistreatment.com-that family doctors are “under considerable strain, with insufficient capacity to meet current and expected patient needs”.
A senior NHS source said: “The number of patients waiting up to four weeks for a consultation will increase significantly if the funding problem is not addressed.
“There is a real concern that patients may quite simply give up after failing to book time with their doctor.
“The danger is that they will develop sleeping killers and only discover they are seriously ill when they are admitted to hospital. It may then be too late.”
Another study has already confirmed that significant delays between individual GP appointments are already the norm. Over-50s group Saga undertook a study where it was found that 500,000 people had experienced up to four-week delays between GP appointments. Even though the government pledged to make GP same-day appointment slots more available, only one in three of those surveyed were actually getting those appointments.
Misdiagnosis and delay can only increase
Dr Baker said: “Patients should be able to get an appointment with their GP when they need one - and GPs and practice nurses should be able to concentrate on the person in front of them instead of worrying about the queues building up in the waiting room.”
She added: “General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and we cannot sit back and allow it to wither on the vine, as if it were to collapse, the rest of the NHS would follow close behind.”
Mistreatment.com has a number of specialist departments which deal with enquiries relating to a variety of medical health complaints and medical related negligence areas. Mistreatment.com was created to listen to talk to people who feel that they had nobody at the NHS to listen to them when something went wrong. Members of the public who call through to us often want to raise an issue within NHS care so that somebody else is not affected the way their and their loved ones have been. Sometimes they call through to us to make a medical negligence claim because a financial settlement is needed to rebuild their life and to take care of their family. If you have experienced a form of medical mistreatment through emergency services, A&E or through surgery, for example, you can speak to the experts at Mistreatment.com