March 18

We all know it takes two weeks to see a GP in the UK. The question is, why?



90% of the UK have their first NHS contact with a GP, so why is it so hard to get an appointment?

When’s the last time you waited less than two weeks to see a GP?

Chances are it’s been a long time since you had that luxury.

Because that’s the reality of life in the UK these days, and the statistics say so too. A poll of GPs done in 2019 had the following results:

  • In 2019, the average wait for a routine appointment with the GP rose above two weeks – to almost fifteen days - for the first time.
  • More than one in five GPs said they wait for a routine appointment at their surgery was more than three weeks.
  • And more than one in 20 said the average wait was longer than four weeks.

That’s a lot of waiting for a ten-minute appointment.

But those stats don’t explain the reasons behind the wait we all face to see our GP.  So what’s causing the queues?

We’re failing, and failing bad

Remember when the Government pledged to increase the number of GPs in the UK by 5,000 ahead of 2020? Since that pledge was made, the number of fully-qualified GPs has fallen by around 3.7%.

More research done by the University of Warwick in 2019 found that nearly half of GPs plan to quit the NHS within five years. That’s almost a third more than in 2014.

What’s more, upwards of a quarter of the GPs surveyed had already cut down their hours to help them cope with the heavy workload.

And though there are currently more GPs in training than ever before, still more research has found that only one in 20 of them plans to work full time.

The reasons to blame? A seriously intense workload and too much time wasted doing trivial tasks. The poor work-life balance and punitive taxes on pensions don’t help either.

So it seems that a significant lack of manpower probably has something to do with the long waiting times (but we still haven’t worked out what’s actually causing the heavy workload that’s proving too much for most GPs).

More and more patients want appointments

Where the numbers of GPs are decreasing, the same certainly can’t be said of the patient population.

That’s because the number of patients registered with general practitioners in England has risen from 56.4m to 60.2m (around 7%) during the last six years.

And it’s not just a matter of volume that GPs are dealing with.

Because our population is getting older, the cases that our GPs are facing are becoming more complex too. There’s been a significant 11% increase in patients over 75 registered with GP practices in England during the same time, after all.

A ten-year study of more than 15,000 people aged 50+ showed some 10% increase in the number of patients with two or more long-term conditions (otherwise known as “multimorbidity”).

The NHS at large has suggested that it’s one of its biggest challenges, and it’s mainly the GPs who are dealing with the fall-out.

But that’s not all.

The knock-on effect

GPs are also feeling the knock-on effect of the shortage of hospital beds that we’ve experienced over the last decade. They’re the ones who take the brunt of the long delays for treatment, supporting patients as they wait for hospital care.

And with cuts to social care, GPs are seeing another vast pool of patients approach them for support.

The evidence is clear on one thing: there are a lot of reasons why you’re waiting two weeks to get an appointment with your GP.

Which means that when your appointment does eventually come around, you won’t get a lot of time with your GP.

So if the pressures on the NHS keep mounting up, more and more patients are going to suffer more than just long waiting times. It could start to affect care too.

If you need to see a doctor straight away, you can do it – but not everyone knows how

The simple answer to help relieve the burden on GPs and the NHS at large is for anyone who’s able to take out private medical insurance.

You might have to pay an excess, and you certainly will have to pay a monthly premium. But for anyone looking for real peace of mind that they’ll be able to get the care they need, as and when they need it, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

And it’s not just GP care you’ll have fast access to.

  • You’ll cut out waiting times for consultant-led or hospital care
  • You’ll get the diagnostic testing, drugs or scans you need, as and when you want them
  • If you need surgery, you’ll choose your surgeon, your hospital and when you get treatment
  • You won’t wait for physio and aftercare either

And that means that if you’re ever under the weather, seriously ill or sustain an injury, you’ll get back to fighting fit and “life as normal” with private medical insurance much quicker than you possibly could on the NHS.

Good news for you, good news for your loved ones.


Always talk to an adviser when buying Private Medical Insurance.  They will match your requirements to the many different policy options and get you the best deal.

In the private medical insurance arena, these people act more like pension or mortgage advisers than your typical insurance salesperson. And they’re always going to be on your side.

Request a call using the secure form below

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