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Independents' Day

GPs under ‘enormous pressure’ amid 13h A&E waits

GPs in a seaside town are under 'enormous pressure' due to understaffing at their local hospital, GP leaders have warned.

Patients faced waits of up to 13 hours to be seen at the A&E department at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

The incident, on Sunday 24 September, saw just two doctors admitting, treating or discharging 84 patients.

Kent LMC chair Dr Gaurav Gupta said via Twitter that the situation presented a 'serious patient safety issue' and was 'putting GPs under enormous pressure'.

He told Pulse: 'We are seeing that more and more acutely unwell people are coming into GP practices and seeing practices are more and more under pressure.'

The Faversham GP, who is also on the BMA's GP Committee, added: 'We can't sound major alerts and shut our doors and that puts us under pressure. It is about patient safety.'

Meanwhile, Resilient GP co-founder and Kent locum GP Dr Stephanie deGiorgio said 'amazing' local GPs were 'there to try to help'.

A&E departments in both Margate and Ashford have seen extra demand since Kent and Canterbury hospital had to stop accepting critically ill patients due to doctor shortages.

Currently, the hospital only sees patients with minor illnesses and injuries, and the trust website said 'spikes in numbers at certain times of the day makes it harder for us to see and treat patients quickly' at Margate and Ashford.

Regarding the specific incident at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, a spokesperson told Pulse the department had been 'one doctor down for part of Sunday morning'.

They added: 'Patients attending the emergency departments are assessed soon after arriving and critically ill patients are prioritised and treated quickly.

'However, this means that people attending with non-life threatening illnesses and injuries can wait for a long time. This is not the standard we want for any of our patients and we are working hard to improve.'

Its website suggested people with minor injuries should seek help from their GP or NHS 111 in the first instance.

The trust has recruited 10 emergency doctors who are due to start work in the next two months to help alleviate some of the pressures and cut waiting times.

The spokesperson said: 'Ensuring patients can access the care they need in the community, seeing patients more quickly in hospital emergency departments and improving the experience for patients is the priority for the NHS in east Kent.

'We are focusing on ensuring that the entire local NHS is caring for patients in the right place at the right time, whether that’s in a hospital bed, in a community setting or at home.'

The news comes as Labour has today called for £500m in extra funding for hospitals ahead of a looming winter crisis.

But the BMA has said the 'winter' crisis is now the 'year-round norm' and Pulse reported earlier this month on an early-season black alert which saw GPs in one area asked to refrain from referring patients to their local hospital because of a lack of beds.

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Readers' comments (16)

  • Thanks Jeremy.

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  • And it’s only September

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  • AlanAlmond

    The solution is a 20 year NHS pay freeze, and newspapers like the Daily Mail need to write lots of articles about crap/lazy/overpaid Drs. and public sector gold plated pensions. We need to train up loads of people (with as little traiing as we can realistically get away with) get them in and pay them peanuts. Then we need to launch a smart phone app and get pharmacists to do lots of medication reviews.

    That should sort this problem out...of that I am absolutely certain.

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Free wifi in GP surgeries will help as well

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  • Colouring books should help the situation

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  • And chanting....

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  • Guide dogs for all in the RCGP so they can see what is actually happening?

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  • I think we need 5,000 fewer GPs. Oh,....

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  • A and E is a litmus for all Primary Care workforce issues! 20 years of poor planning and resource allocation will take many years to resolve Even If there was the political will to fix this!

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  • They need gardening on prescription. That'll fix it

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