'It took me 88 calls': Patients struggle to get GP appointments as demand rises

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Tom Savvides

Some patients in Kent have told ITV News Meridian, it is 'almost impossible' getting a same day appointment with their GPs.

Demand on doctors' services has risen dramatically since lockdown restrictions were eased, and then lifted.

It comes as figures show almost 40% percent of appointments are now carried out over the phone.

Wendy from Wingham near Canterbury says she has called her surgery multiple times to get an appointment.

She said: "It took me 88 phone calls to actually get through on a constant redial on my phone which took me 45 minutes.

"When I eventually got through to the receptionist and asked her for an appointment to see the doctor she turned round and said I'd missed the last, and I asked if her I could pre-book for another day and she said, no you need to try again tomorrow, so I said to her what I've got to make another 88 phone calls tomorrow? She said I'm afraid so."

The latest NHS figures for June in England show 45% percent of GP patients were seen on the same day.

Other figures suggest 21% of patients had to wait between 2-7 days to see a GP.

Meanwhile, 12% were securing an appointment within 8-14 days.

Some surgeries, like Faversham Health Centre, say they've been overwhelmed with demand.

They are still taking Covid precautions, even though lockdown restrictions have been lifted. 

Dr Gaurav Gupta

Dr Gaurav Gupta said: "The increased demand from our patients is putting a lot of pressure on the staff. We are finding we are having to do more and more in less time because of the use of PPE and cleaning between patients, so we would advise and urge patients to just be patient with us and kind to the staff because we are doing very best to help you."

The NHS has changed the way it delivers its services in light of the pandemic.

NHS South East told ITV News Meridian: "There continues to be ongoing need for both face to face as well as remote consultations for patients and the NHS will continue to regularly review the process for accessing appointments, so people get timely and appropriate care depending on clinical need."