Huge drop-off in GP appointments in Bassetlaw during lockdown
More than 15,000 fewer GP appointments were recorded in Bassetlaw in April amid concerns Covid-19 is putting people off going to the doctor.
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has urged patients to seek help if they need it, and said surgeries must have adequate resources to cope with a predicted increase in demand as the lockdown eases.
But the NHS says changes in how practices operate during the pandemic may have affected the figures, with remote sessions under-reported.
NHS Digital data shows that patients booked in to see their doctor on 37,470 occasions in the NHS Bassetlaw CCG area in April.
This was down from 55,555 for the same month a year before.
Additionally, 31 per cent of sessions in Bassetlaw were logged as having been completed over the phone in April, up from just 23 per cent a year previously.
Prof Martin Marshall, RCGP chairman, said: “People may be worried about overburdening NHS services during the coronavirus crisis, or contracting the virus themselves.
“However, if anyone is seriously ill or concerned about their health, we’d strongly urge them to contact their GP practice or 111 – and in an emergency situation, call 999.”
The NHS said the drop-off in recorded appointments does not necessarily mean GPs are seeing fewer patients.
It said practices were likely to be operating differently, including the use of more list appointments, in which contact with several patients is only counted once, while online and video sessions ‘may not be routinely captured’.