GP appointment wait-times have hit an all-time high, with close to 40,000 people waiting longer than a month in Suffolk and north Essex.

Over 365,000 appointments were made in GP practices under the Suffolk and North Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) in October.

Of this figure, 38,000 (10%) had to wait more than 28 days for an appointment.

Further to this, over 145,000 same-day appointments were made, 24,000 next-day appointments and 65,000 within the week.

Grove Medical Centre in Felixstowe fared the worst with 29% of their patients having to wait longer than 28 days for an appointment.

Saxmundham Health Centre and Two Rivers Medical Centre in Ipswich also had high figures with 23% of their patients facing more than 28 day-waits.

Dr Solway & Dr Mallick Practice in Ipswich had the highest percentage of same-day appointments, 75%.

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, notes that the experience of accessing GP medical practice services in Suffolk is not consistent.

He highlighted that 46% of more than 900 comments they received about GP practices between April and September were positive about access.

However, Mr Yacoub added: "The variance in experience from practice to practice has been a long-standing problem, influenced by many factors including staff retention, recruitment challenges, the rurality of services, neighbouring practices closing their doors or changing their 'catchment areas'. 

One common issue reported are lengthy call waits and having to call the next day, as well as problems accessing services digitally, or longer waiting times if people are seeking specific healthcare staff to ensure continuity of care.

East Anglian Daily Times: Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk.Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Yacoub added: "We must see patience, compassion and empathy from both the public and clinicians as the health system continues to process requests to be seen."

A spokesman for the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB said: "Where there is an urgent need, GP practices will always do their very best to ensure patients are seen on the same day.

"However, the challenges facing primary care services are very well-known, with increasing demand and recruitment issues continuing to put pressures on services, meaning patients with non-urgent needs may need to wait longer for an appointment."

They added: "As we approach the busy festive season, we encourage people to keep a supply of medicine cabinet essentials at home so they can best deal with minor illness and injury and consider the local pharmacy and NHS 111 when feeling unwell."

East Anglian Daily Times: GP appointment wait-times are now at an all-time high.GP appointment wait-times are now at an all-time high. (Image: Radar)