York sees England's worst increases in month-long GP waits, figures suggest

York and the surrounding area is seeing the biggest increase in patients waiting more than a month for a GP appointment, analysis suggests.

Figures compiled by the Liberal Democrats found that the Vale of York has seen an almost 80 per cent increase in four-week long waits in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Writing for The Yorkshire Post, Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, said that it was “nothing short of a national scandal”.

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The data suggests that Sheffield is the third-worst area in the country for four-week waits, with 9.3 per cent waiting for a month.

Of the 106 areas in England, North Yorkshire and the East Riding came in 11th and 16th respectively for the increases in long delays to see a GP.

“This GP wait times crisis is nothing short of a national scandal,” said Sir Ed.

“The Conservative Party promised to hire more GPs in their 2019 manifesto. But like so many other Conservative promises, this has fallen on the scrap heap as the number of qualified full-time GPs has fallen under their watch.”

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A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the Government was delivering “50 million more GP appointments per year” and that GP funding had increased in real terms by almost 20 per cent between 2017/18 and 2021/22.

It comes as the Liberal Democrats held their Spring Conference in York this weekend, with the party aiming to win two seats in Yorkshire having failed to pick up any in 2019.

Writing in today’s Yorkshire Post, Sir Ed said that the “wind is in our sails” following four by-election wins over the course of this parliament.

“Here in Yorkshire, lifelong Conservative voters in places like Harrogate and Knaresborough are switching to the Liberal Democrats because they are so fed up with this appalling government.

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“And we are taking on Labour in seats like Sheffield Hallam, as communities turn to us after years of being let down and taken for granted.”

The most recent MRP poll from Electoral Calculus suggests that the Liberal Democrats have a good chance of winning both seats, with YouGov projecting that Harrogate is more likely to switch than the South Yorkshire seat.

However, the pollster Professor John Curtice suggested that Sheffield Hallam would not be on his list of probable Lib Dem victories come the next election.

Speaking to Pod’s Own Country, the Yorkshire Post’s political podcast as part of the paper’s new Battleground Yorkshire series, he said that one of the “remarkable” things about this parliament is how the Lib Dems have “failed to profit from a mid-term protest against a Conservative administration”.

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The party is placing much of their campaigning in Harrogate, with its North Yorkshire councillors today describing the Tory council’s decision to cut free school buses as “shameful and wrong”.

Commenting, Daniel Callaghan, the party’s candidate taking on Rishi Sunak in Richmond at the next election, said: “The fact that the Council is having to make such disgraceful cuts is a symptom of years of woeful underfunding of local government by this Conservative government.

“Rishi Sunak and his gang have decimated council finances and it is local communities like those in his own backyard country who are paying the price.”