Nearly 70,000 patients in Northern, Eastern and Western Devon waited three weeks for GP appointment, new figures show.

PUBLISHED: 12:21 02 January 2019

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Nearly three quarters of patients are satisfied with the length of time they wait for GP appointments across northern, eastern and western (NEW) Devon, claims the NHS.

This is despite new figures revealing nearly 70,000 patients across that area are waiting at least three weeks to see a GP.

NHS Digital data shows that 69,750 people in the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group had to wait until at least 21 days to see a doctor after booking an appointment in October 2018.

According to a 2018 national GP patient survey, 73 per cent of people in the NEW Devon CCG area were satisfied with the appointment times available to them.

The experience ofmaking appointments was ‘good’ according to 78 per cent of respondents.

A spokesman for NHS England and NHS NEW Devon CCG said: “GPs across Devon work really hard, particularly at this time of year when many people are enjoying time with their families.

“All the county’s practices are rated either good or outstanding by the CQC.

“As well as the core hours of 8am to 6.30pm, to make it easier for people to get an appointment at a time that suits them, a new system of extended hours is now available so everyone in Devon can access appointments in the evenings and at weekends.

“There is currently good availability for patients to book these over the upcoming Christmas holiday period.”

Waiting times worsened in comparison with November 2017 - the earliest period for which data is available - when 11 per cent of patients waited for at least three weeks.

Two in five patients in NEW Devon CCG were able to see a GP the same day the appointment was made.

Experts say the figures include patients who need regular appointments and are likely to be booking ahead.

Rachel Power, The Patients Association chief executive, said: “It can be incredibly stressful to face a long wait before getting to see a doctor, quite apart from prolonging the length of time someone has to live with the medical issue that is troubling them.

“All of this is a symptom of an NHS running at boiling point all year round.”

Nationally, 10 per cent of patients waited on average at least three weeks to see a GP in October 2018, compared to 9 per cent in November 2017.

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