One in five people who arrive at Northampton General Hospital’s A&E do so because they cannot see a GP, an independent survey suggests.
During a two-week period, Healthwatch Northamptonshire asked 173 people in the Accident &Emergency waiting area at NGH, at different times of the day and evening.
A total of 20 per cent of the people surveyed has attended A&E because they were unable to see a GP.
Comments from patients included “have to wait a month for a GP appointment”, “always come here – can’t get a GP appointment”, “not prepared to wait for an appointment tomorrow as possibly not able to see GP” and “A&E is the best place to come at weekends”.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s chief executive, Rosie Newbigging, said: “This report highlights some of the problems people in Northamptonshire face when trying to access urgent care and it looks like the system needs to work more effectively together to manage the pressures.
“Pressure on NGH’s A&E department is intense and so alternatives, where appropriate depending on the condition, need to be fully available.”
The watchdog used the report to call for alternatives to A&E to work more effectively.
And it announced it was conducting a survey of people using GP services in the autumn to find out more about the issues raised.
A Healthwatch Northamptonshire spokesman said: “Much more work needs to be done to ensure that health services are working together to make sure people have good access to alternatives to A&E, if their condition is not an emergency, and that the public know how to access these.
“The survey shows that a majority of people are trying to use alternatives to A&E, but that access to alternatives is difficult.”