New figures from NHS England show that 20% of people in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes could not get an appointment to see or speak to a GP or nurse the last time they tried.
Meanwhile, data from the NHS reveals that in the past year, nearly 1.7 million GP appointments in the South East were held a month late, as patients struggle to see a GP when they need one.
In June alone, 25,730 appointments were held a month late in Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes.
The continuous problems come after over a decade of Government mismanagement; when the Conservatives entered government in 2010, they scrapped the guarantee of a GP appointment within 48 hours.
Over the twelve years of Conservative government since then, public satisfaction with GP services has fallen by 39 percentage points – from 77% in Labour’s last year in government, to just 38% now, the lowest level since the survey began in 1983.
Labour Councillor Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities and Labour Parliamentary Candidate for MK South, said:
“The Government has admitted it is failing to meet its manifesto pledge to recruit more GPs. The Conservatives have overpromised and underdelivered, and local families are suffering as a result.”
Residents have been regularly contacting their ward councillors informing them of the struggles to access a GP appointment. This has led to Milton Keynes City Council committing to investigate whether access to GP services is appropriate and the local authority will soon advise public health partners on where improvements should be made.
Labour Councillor Shanika Mahendran will be leading a task and finish group of councillors that investigates both GP and dentist access:
“Families in Milton Keynes are finding it near impossible to get a GP or dentist appointment when they need one. This means that illnesses are going undiagnosed and untreated, and people are suffering when they shouldn’t have to. We committed as part of our Council Plan to look into these struggles at a local level, but the Government also have to step up to prevent matters from getting even worse.”
Data from the NHS also finds that 21% appointments in Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes aren’t held face-to-face.
Councillor Emily Darlington concluded: “We need more GPs but the Conservatives have once again over-promised and under-delivered.
“People in Milton Keynes deserve a Labour government that will give the NHS what it needs to see people on time, not more of the same from the Conservatives.”