I have just written some facts on another health related thread and feel that they may explain some of the difficulties faced by Gransnetters on this one, so I will pop it on at the end.
Before I do, I am so sorry to read of the health problems and concerns of people here. Being ill is such a horrible worrying, painful time. However... it is not the fault of your GP that you cannot be seen immediately, although there are 'well run' surgeries and some, not so. Like everything else, there are wide variations in quality.
In very simple terms and as Maddyone has said many times, there are not enough GPs.
That, really, is the one fact that you need to take on board.
This nonsense about GPs not working more than two or three days a week, that their surgeries are run for profit and all the other really silly points are nonsensical. There are not enough GPs. More GPs are retiring (they are burnt out and fed up of criticism) than are being trained.
There are not enough GPs.
Why there are not enough is a complex question, partially answered below. Not enough funding. As usual, it comes down to money.
GPs cannot work much harder. I rang my GP daughter last night (to see how her Covid-positive daughter is faring) but she could only spare a minute as she was still working. This was at 10.00 pm. I rang then as I thought she would have been home (usually around 9.30 pm) and had something to eat. I had forgotten she is working from home due to her daughter's Covid. She had been working for 14 hours at that point.
Incidentally at her surgery, patients are given the option of a face-to-face or telephone consultation. It may surprise you to know that they run about 50/50. Many patients are pleased not to have to get dressed, drive, park etc., and are very pleased with a telephone consultation. Obviously this is not appropriate for everything.
The reason why surgeries are currently pretty empty is that they have tried to stop their patients sitting in crowded waiting rooms and catching Covid.
We will all have to pay more taxes, train more doctors and stop relying on goodwill which is how the NHS manages to run. My daughter says that is she actually averaged the hours she puts in, she would probably earn less than minimum wage. I am sure that you won't believe me but it is true.
I have also suggested previously that you should contact your Practice Manager to try and clear up problems and join the Patient Participation Group at your surgery as then you would have direct input. The Practice Manager usually attends meetings.
Here are some facts:
N.B. If this is too long a read, just check out the last paragraph. It shows why the NHS is struggling. Also please see the fact regarding GP earnings.
I would like to stay apolitical but thought that you may like to know some facts. Hard facts.
General practice has faced a decade of under investment.
Patient consultations are increasing as the population grows.
Patients are living longer with more complex health needs.
Comparison to previous years:
In 2017 the NHS gave 8.1% of the NHS budget to general practice.
This was significantly less than the previous decade (in 2005/6 general practice received 9.6%).
To equate the same figure for 2017/18 the investment should have been just over £12 billion. It was not.
Relationship between investment and GP earnings:
Although GP investment increased each year, GP earnings have decreased.
Example: Between 2012/13 and 2013/14 GP investment increased by 4.7%.
This is because whilst GP investment has been increasing, the total cost of expenses has also increased but at a much faster rate.
Between 2015/16 and 2016/17 GP investment increased by 5.7% whereas total expenses increased by 8.5%.
These steep increases in expenses therefore impact GP income and do not allow increased investment to be translated in to increased earnings.
A significant boost to general practice funding generally is needed.
I repeat: GP earnings decreased by 3%.
Health spending as a share of GDP:
This remains at the lowest level in a decade.
As a share of GDP, spending on health in 2018/19 was roughly the same as in 2011/12 and only marginally above that of 2008/09.
This is as a result of low growth in health spending which has risen by 1.6% a year on average since 2011/12.
This is less than half the long-run trend of growth in health spending which is 3.6% a year in real terms.
In 2018/19 the UK spent around £153 billion on health, at 2019/20 prices.
On average health spending has increased by 3.6% a year over the history of the NHS as a result of growing population, prevalence of chronic conditions and rising cost of delivering care.
However, over the past decade, the spending on health has slowed to just 1.6% a year since 2011/12. At that point health spending was 7.3% of GDP, a drop since its highest level of 7.6% in 2009/10.
Due to low spending growth since then, the NHS has grown at a similar rate to GDP growth and now stands at 7.2% of GDP.
In terms of growth as a percentage of GDP, the nine-year period since 2009/10 is the lowest since the first decade of the NHS.