Pirate FM News 4 minute read

Significant drop off in GP appointments in Cornwall

Significant drop off in GP appointments in Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:00am 9th May 2020.

GP surgeries in Cornwall saw a significant drop off in appointments in March, as the effects of Covid-19 hit trips to the family doctor.

The Royal College of GPs says the decline in patients seeking help for non-coronavirus related conditions is concerning and could have serious consequences.

But the NHS says changes in how surgeries operate during the pandemic may have affected the figures, with remote sessions under reported.

NHS Digital data shows that 53,664 GP appointments were recorded in the NHS Kernow CCG area in the last seven days of March.

This was 33% fewer than in the first week of the month, and 34% below the same week a year previously.

Across England, practices recorded a 30% reduction in sessions between the first and last weeks of the month.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the RCGP, said the data will not capture other ways care is being delivered, such as via “Covid hubs" and GPs providing NHS 111 support.

“Nevertheless, a decline in patients seeking medical help for conditions and illnesses unrelated to the Covid-19 pandemic is concerning and could lead to serious consequences, as we have seen in previous health crises. As such, we want to remind patients that GP practices are open and if they are seriously ill or concerned about their health – or if, for example, they or their child is due a vaccination – they should contact their GP practice.”

             Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the RCGP

The NHS said the decline does not necessarily mean GPs are offering fewer appointments overall.

It added doctors could be using more list appointments, in which contact with several patients is only counted once, while online and video sessions “may also not be routinely captured”.

“Last month practices delivered nearly 25 million appointments – over the phone, online or face-to-face where needed – and the majority took place within 48 hours, showing that even during these unprecedented times, if people require help from a GP they are able to get it, making contact initially by phone or online.”

             Nikki Kanani, medical director for primary care 

The figures also show 54% of appointments in Kernow in the last week of March were recorded as face-to-face, compared to 80% in the first seven days.

Meanwhile, telephone appointments rose from 17% to 43% over the period.

The Patients Association has urged the NHS to closely monitor the consequences of the shift to more remote consultations.

“If the findings show that it’s been positive for patients, then we’d like to see plans to make more routine use of telephone consultations once the pandemic is over. But if this isn’t the case, then GPs will need support to correct any shortcomings in patient care.”

             Rachel Power, chief executive The Patients Association

The RCGP said its own data showed 71% of routine consultations were done remotely in the four weeks to April 12, compared to just 24% over the same period a year earlier.

Prof Marshall said that while general practice will remain a face-to-face service, being able to offer remote appointments will be beneficial long after the pandemic is over.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the data did not “accurately reflect” the changes in general practice during Covid-19.

Contact Us

If you would like to submit a query or provide more information on this story please get in touch below.

Please wait...
  • Up to 3 JPG or PNG images, 2MB max size
  • We will always endeavour to credit you when we publish your pictures.
  • By uploading you are agreeing to this non-exclusive reuse, royalty-free, across all Pirate FM platforms, which extends to our partner broadcasters.
  • You retain copyright to all images.
  • If you would like to send us a video, please upload to YouTube or similar and paste the video URL into the message above.
Email Icon

Sign up for exclusive news, competitions and offers.
Proper Local News updates from Pirate FM

Suggested articles

Royal Cornwall Hospital cancer appointments 'far below' pre-coronavirus levels

Cornwall News: It is feared many people are still avoiding critical care due to Covid-19

Missing tourist in Cornwall is found safe and well

Cornwall News: Police say Joe Summerfield has been located in the East Sussex area

Newer articles

RNLI hopes to roll out lifeguard cover in Cornwall over summer

Cornwall News: But people are being urged not to go in the sea over the bank holiday

Older articles

VE Day and bank holiday lockdown warning for Cornwall

Cornwall News: Police fear people may be tempted to break rules over the long weekend

GPs and pharmacies open on VE Day bank holiday

Cornwall News: Here is how to get care and treatment across Cornwall

Most read

Former Tory minister arrested on suspicion of rape

National News: A former Tory minister has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

Man dies after being pulled from the sea in west Cornwall

Cornwall News: Members of the public and emergency services tried to save him