Health Minister thanks GPs for helping tackle the 8am bottleneck

The Health Minister has thanked GPs for progress made in tackling the 8am bottleneck and making it easier for people to get appointments.

But the Minister said more needs to be done to ensure everyone in Wales can expect the same service, and called on the public to help by reducing some of the 80,000 missed appointments every month.

95% of practices across Wales have said they are now providing a mix of remote, face to face, urgent and pre-bookable appointments, and that people can contact their practice throughout the day to make an appointment.

These practices have also said they have now trained staff to direct people to the care that is right for them – to other services, like pharmacies or opticians, where appropriate, or to offer an appointment the same day or in the future if less urgent.

To build on this work, practices will collect and take action on patient feedback to ensure they can continue to improve access for the communities they serve.

As part of the new contract with GPs that comes into force this month, other practices are working towards implementing changes to make getting an appointment easier.

The Health Minister has also encouraged the public to think about how they can help improve access to GPs by attending all appointments or cancelling appointments if they are no longer needed to free up appointments for other people.

Data from the past year shows that on average around 80,000 people across Wales do not attend their appointments each month.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:

“GPs and their staff have worked tirelessly in the face of ongoing pressure, and I thank them for their commitment to improving access.

“Patients should be able to contact their GP practice throughout the day to book an appointment, avoiding the ‘8am bottleneck’ that causes frustration to many. The majority of practices have already started doing this and others are working to put new processes in place to achieve this.

“GPs are the first step in someone’s health care journey, and it is vital everyone can be seen, triaged, treated or referred on a more appropriate service as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, we all have a role to play in improving the service, there are around 80,000 missed appointments a month. If people don’t re-arrange appointments, they are costing other people the opportunity to see their GP, which can have a knock-on effect on other parts of the NHS. I encourage everyone to attend their appointments or re-arrange as soon as possible if they can’t attend, so that everyone who needs to see a GP can be seen.”

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