GPs managing only urgent cases due to staff shortages

Published on: Wednesday, 12th January 2022
Joined Up Care Derbyshire

General practices across Derbyshire are only managing urgent appointments for the rest of January as they cope with staff shortages of up to 30% caused by the spread of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.

The decision to suspend non-urgent appointments in response to the staff shortages reflects the intense pressures across the entire health and care system of Derby and Derbyshire, including providers such as hospitals, ambulance services and care homes. 

It follows a similar move before Christmas, which was prompted by a directive from NHSE to enable staff to focus on providing vaccinations against the virus. Patients responded well to the situation, but GPs have since seen an increase in the number of requests for non-urgent appointments, just as staff shortages are rising. 

Dr Andy Mott, who chairs the General Practice Delivery Board and is a partner at Jessop Medical Practice in Ripley, said the combination of increased demand and staff absence was a major challenge: "We were really appreciative if the way the public behaved just before Christmas in reducing the demand for appointments for non-urgent matters, as it gave us some breathing space to continue to deliver the vaccination programme.

"But, understandably, people are now asking for appointments for those routine and non-urgent issues, but practices across Derbyshire have a serious problem with so many staff sick, isolating or caring for ill family members.

"As a whole system we are working together to ensure the best possible care for patients, and this has led to the decision to continue to only see urgent cases. This helps us to treat those who most need our care for symptoms which could indicate serious illness, especially those which may be time-sensitive, such as cancer and infections.

"I want thank the public for their continuing patience and understanding while we continue to try to treat our poorliest patients first during this challenging period. Patient safety is the most important consideration, and we ask that the public be understanding about any messages from their practice. They're all working as hard as they can."

Practices are asking patients to continue to only make contact for urgent needs for at least the remainder of January. This includes:

  • concerns about possible infections
  • symptoms that may suggest cancer, such as:
    • new, unexplained bleeding, 
    • breast lumps
    • mole changes.  

Non-urgent help can often be sought from your local pharmacy or by using NHS 111 services, available online and over the phone. 

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