More than 15,000 patients in North Kirklees waited seven days or longer to see a GP the last time they tried, an official NHS survey has found.
Across the North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area, 15,592 people said they had faced a wait of a week or more when they phoned for an appointment in the last year.
The annual NHS England survey, released earlier this month, also revealed that four in 10 patients who have a preferred GP had to see another doctor when they last went to their surgery.
Paula Sherriff, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Dewsbury, has pinned the blame on the Conservative-led government.
She said: “David Cameron has made it harder for people in Dewsbury and across Kirklees to get a GP appointment – proof he can’t be trusted with our local NHS, and one of the major reasons behind the huge demand that our under-threat A&E department is struggling with.
“Within days of the last election, he scrapped Labour’s appointments guarantee and now thousands of people here are waiting over a week. Labour will scrap David Cameron’s NHS market and invest the savings in helping people get a GP appointment within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it.”
Dewsbury and Mirfield Conservative MP Simon Reevell responded: “It is hypocritical for someone who works for a private healthcare contractor (Virgin Care) to be pushing these kind of scare stories about the NHS and trying to pin them on the Prime Minister.”
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary, said: “People want to be able to see the GP they trust, and who knows their family history, but are left phoning the surgery day after day only to be disappointed. Patients are waiting days or even weeks for appointments and that is forcing people to A&E in record numbers.”
Labour has pledged to invest £100 million in GP surgeries. They also say they will guarantee appointments within 48 hours or on the same day for those who need it if they win the next election.
A spokesperson for NHS England (West Yorkshire) said: “NHS England in West Yorkshire is committed to ensuring patients have access to high quality, timely patient care and GP practices in the region continue to work hard to ensure their patients are seen in appropriate timescales.
“In the latest GP Patient Survey results 83 per cent of patients in North Kirklees said their overall experience of GP services was good.”