Local hospitals are struggling under record pressure as thousands of patients in Ipswich and East Suffolk arrive at A&E after failing to get an appointment with their family doctor the last time they tried, an official NHS England survey found.
In Ipswich and East Suffolk, around 2370 people went to an A&E department when they could not see a local GP, an increase of almost 30% on six months ago.
Across England, nearly one million patients (930,901) turned to A&E when they couldn’t see a GP. The survey also found one in four patients waits a week or more for an appointment after the Government’s decision to abolish the 48-hour appointment guarantee after the last election.
Earlier this month, Ed Miliband set out a five-point plan to rescue struggling A&E departments following a lack of action from the Government. The measures included immediate support for GPs to offer appointments winter.
Labour has also pledged to invest £100 million in GP surgeries - saved by scrapping David Cameron's NHS market rules that waste millions on lawyers fees and contract tendering - to guarantee appointments within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it.
Jamie Reed MP, Labour's Shadow Health Minister, said:
"David Cameron has made it harder for people to get a GP appointment and it’s left people turning to overstretched A&E departments.
“Patients are phoning the surgery day after day only to be disappointed. It’s like getting sought-after concert tickets, sitting for hours early morning with the phone on redial. But sadly, too many people are forced to give up and go to A&E.
“David Cameron caused this A&E crisis and his complacency is now a danger to patients. Labour has committed to investing an extra £2.5 billion each year – over and above the Tories – to recruit 8,000 more GPs and 20,000 nurses. We will scrap the Government’s NHS market and invest the savings in helping people to get a GP appointment within 48 hours."
David Ellesmere, Parliamentary candidate for Ipswich said:
"Ipswich Hospital A&E has not met its waiting time targets for five weeks and this is one of the reasons why. More and more people are finding they are having to wait weeks to see their GP so they are going to A&E instead. A Labour Government would increase the number of GPs and guarantee an appointment within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it, taking the pressure off our overstretched A&Es"