Kemi Badenoch MP's column: NHS appointments

Kemi Badenoch, MP for Saffron Walden.

Kemi Badenoch, MP for Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

I know how important health services are to residents across our constituency.

The pandemic has raised many concerns about the future of our NHS.

Constituents have been sharing their difficulties securing face-to-face GP appointments and long waiting times on the phone.

I have had multiple meetings and corresponded with local health leaders to get to the bottom of what is going on.

Like us all, GPs had to change their way of working in response to the crisis.

This included switching to a triage system and increased digital appointments, which remain in place despite the easing of restrictions.

I know this has been a source of frustration, but it has been for good reason. Health settings are a different environment, they take care of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

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It is extremely encouraging that people are returning to normal use of our health services. Our local NHS leaders are doing all they can to alleviate the backlog of appointments, whilst navigating the increased demand.

It is important we also do our bit by recognising the changes that have been made by GPs to protect their patients and staff.

Practice staff have encountered a growing amount of abuse which is simply unacceptable.

GPs understand the issues patients are facing and that many of us were expecting GP services to return to pre-pandemic ways – e.g. calling up and getting a face-to-face appointment or attending a ‘walk in’ one.

I am assured that digital appointments can be the quickest, most effective way to access your GP and if you need a face-to-face appointment, you will be offered one.

A decision would be made on clinical need and in some cases having a telephone or video consultation before a face to face one is deemed the most appropriate option.

I would like to thank all constituents that have written to me on this issue.

The Health Secretary recently announced a plan that includes a £250 million winter access fund which will enable greater capacity of services across England and our constituency.

My ministerial colleagues and I will continue improving access for you and support for GPs.

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