Unacceptable waiting times for GP appointments
Sanchez Manning THE inability of some patients to get a doctor s appointment with 48 hours has become unacceptable in Westminster, a new report warns. A patient survey shows it is harder to get an appointment in less than two days in Westminster than any
THE inability of some patients to get a doctor's appointment with 48 hours has become unacceptable in Westminster, a new report warns.
A patient survey shows it is harder to get an appointment in less than two days in Westminster than any other part of the country - with the borough's average of 81 per cent sitting well below the 87 per cent national average.
And in a recent review, the council's Health Scrutiny Task Group expressed serious concerns about how rapidly the situation had deteriorated at certain surgeries.
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At the North West Medical Centre in St John's Wood there is only a 59 per cent chance of securing a check-up, down by six per cent from the year before.
But in Maida Vale, identified as one of worst areas, there is only a 69 per cent chance of getting an appointment within the 48 hour limit at Little Venice Medical Centre, a 10 per cent drop compared to 2006-2007.
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However, Lisson Grove Medical Centre, Wellington Health Centre and Paddington Green Health Centre were all rated above the national average.
In its report, the task group recognised there were flaws in the survey but said the results revealed the variations in the standard of family doctors in Westminster.
The survey pointed to the concentration of walk-in centres in the south of the borough.
Unreliable healthcare websites with inaccurate information were also highlighted as a problem area.
The report's authors called for surgery details - including names, locations, and opening hours - to be regularly updated.
These measures were said to be particularly important with plans to open four GP-led health centres, where the introduction of new services will need to be communicated to local people.
Task group chairman Cllr Barrie Taylor said the recommendations and closer collaboration between the council and Westminster Primary Care Trust would help reduce the health inequalities.
"Achieving and maintaining excellent borough-wide health services that are widely accessible is our main concern," he said. "The level of primary care available across Westminster varies according to where individual lives and their individuals needs.
"It's vital that this disparity is addressed and this can only be done through the joint working and support of both the PCT and Westminster Council."
The report's other key recommendations include further monitoring to identify badly performing practices, boosting out-of-hours provision and using focus groups to continue improvements.