Almost a quarter of patients in Huddersfield could not get an appointment with their GP at the first attempt, figures reveal.
The struggle to get a GP appointment or even get through on the phone line has been revealed by an NHS England patient survey.
It shows Huddersfield patients, like most in England, cannot be sure they will get an appointment on the day they ring up.
The survey reveals 10% of people could not get an appointment booked in when they rang their surgery or practice.
A further 12% were forced to ring back closer to the date they wanted.
Almost a quarter (24%) said it was “not easy” to get through on practice phone lines.
And the NHS survey also shows that almost half of the people who got an appointment (47%), had to wait a day or more for a slot with the doc, while 15% were forced to wait more than a week.
A quarter of patients also said they unhappy they could be overheard in the reception area and more than a third (36%) said they had to wait too long in the waiting room.
Despite this, 89% of patients surveyed in Huddersfield rated their overall experience at the GP as ‘good’.
Patients in North Kirklees have an even tougher time with only two thirds (67%) able to get an appointment booked first time – below the national average of 73%.
The figures show that many patients decide to go to A&E instead.
Of the 602 patients who failed to get an appointment in the Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (GHCCG) region, 17 decided to go straight to the hospital’s emergency department.
In North Kirklees almost 20% of people who failed to see a GP went straight to A&E or a walk-in centre (95).
And across both areas, dozens of people have said they just gave up and didn’t see any kind of health professional.
The survey using aggregated data from two three month periods in 2013 and 2014 confirms the chronic lack of GPs in Kirklees.
Rory Deighton, of Healthwatch Kirklees, said: “This issue is probably the one that patients have spoken to us about more than any other in the last 12 months and is a national one driven by increased demand for appointments due, in part, to an aging population and increases in long term conditions.
“Many practices recognise this and are looking at different ways of assessing patients, doing telephone call backs or offering online appointment booking.
“We all have a responsibility to help people to understand where they can get the most appropriate and timely support for their health condition – that may be through a GP appointment, but sometimes a telephone call to NHS 111, or a visit to their pharmacy can be just as effective.”
Alison Knowles, director of commissioning (West Yorkshire) at NHS England, said: “The demand for GP services in Huddersfield has increased over the past few years and in order to support patients’ needs many practices have adjusted their approach to offering appointments.
“Appointments need to be made on the basis of clinical need and the GP practice will assess this with each patient individually.
“There is more work to be done in the future to enable GP practices to be the first point of contact for the majority of patients in response to increased demand and, along with CCGs and NHS England, GP practices are considering how they can do this which may include the development of urgent care hubs.
“Overall, GP patient satisfaction remains high.”