In the past, if you woke up with a temperature, a pounding headache and more than a mild sniffle, you may have dialled the number of your local surgery and booked yourself a GP appointment for that afternoon.
Ring your GP today, and you’re lucky if you can get an appointment within the week for non-emergencies.
The pressures on NHS primary care services, and the changing needs of a growing and increasingly elderly population, are well documented.
A recent study by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health Research showed workloads in general practice increased by 16% between 2007 and 2014, with consultations now more frequent and longer. This increase is equivalent to almost an extra working day each week for GPs – no wonder appointments are so hard to come by.
The findings of the research are clear, and as the authors of the study highlight, “as currently delivered, the system seems to be approaching saturation point.”
We are not alone in recognising how delivery of primary care in many health-care systems may begin to evolve.
Over the last few months, we’ve seen a global pharmaceutical company and a leading international consumer business both make a marked change in their leadership team. The pharma company promoted the head of its consumer business to CEO, and the consumer company introduced a new CEO with a strong health-care background.
These developments reflect companies’ growing awareness of the patient as a consumer. As we increasingly take more responsibility for our own treatment choices, and importantly the cost of this, how we choose to consume health care becomes increasingly important.
So, a visit to your local pharmacy, having failed to secure that early GP appointment, may be just what the doctor ordered.