Millions of patients in England are expected to be forced to wait at least a week to get an appointment with their family doctor next year, a medical body has warned.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said some 27 million appointments with family doctors will take place across England in 2014 at least seven days after they are booked.
The RCGP, which analyzed official figures by the National Health Service (NHS), blamed the problem of waiting times on fewer graduates going into general practice and rising demand in the UK.
“If waiting times get longer, it will be more difficult for GPs to ensure that problems are caught early, and the pressure on A&E (Accident and Emergency) [departments] will intensify. This is bad news for patients and bad news for the whole of the NHS,” said RCGP chairwoman Maureen Baker.
It was also emerged that 71 percent of family doctors believe waiting times will be longer within the next two years as a result of a decline in staff numbers.
British Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the Toy-led government made a “mistake” by scrapping Labour party’s guarantee that patients would be seen within 48 hours.
Earlier this month, new figures showed that Britain’s hospitals make patients wait for hours in ambulances as A&E units are too busy to treat them.
According to the statistics released to the state-run BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, in one instance a patient in Wales was forced to wait for six hours and 22 minutes before being admitted to a hospital’s A&E ward. This is while patients are not supposed to wait in ambulances more than 15 minutes.