Over three quarters of NI worried about access to GP appointments

A new survey from CompareNI.com has found that the majority of people in Northern Ireland are dissatisfied with their local GP services.

The survey found that 72% of people were not satisfied with their local GP waiting times. In addition to this, 76% stated that they had been worried about not being able to access a GP appointment in the last year.

The survey also found that nearly half of respondents (47%) were not able to get a routine appointment when needed and 43% were not able to get an emergency appointment.

To book an emergency appointment over the phone, 32% of people said they would have to ring on average more than 30 times to get through to a receptionist. In addition to this, 20% said they would normally have to queue for over 30 minutes to book an emergency appointment with a further 11% waiting over an hour.

85% said they thought it was harder to book an appointment after the pandemic than it was before.

The survey comes as the health and social care system in Northern Ireland continues to face serious issues. It was recently announced that 13 GP practices across NI have decided to hand their contracts back in the past year resulting in the loss of around 70 doctors, while a further 30 practices are reported to be on the brink of doing the same.*

Commenting on the figures, Ian Wilson, Managing Director at CompareNI.com said: “It is disappointing to see how dissatisfied people in Northern Ireland are with their local GP services and how inaccessible both routine and emergency appointments have become. In light of this many people are choosing to take out health insurance to avoid those long waiting times and alleviate worry around accessing medical appointments.

“Nobody wants to pay extra for their health care, especially at a time when the cost of living is so high, but a lot of people see it as the only alternative when waiting times are so severe and medical appointments are hard to get. If people are opting for health insurance, it is important to compare the different providers and plans available so that they get the best cover to suit their individual health needs at the most competitive price.”

Private Health Insurance is an insurance policy aimed at covering the costs of medical treatment for people who choose to have private care, an alternative to using the NHS. Health insurance can vary on cost and cover depending on age, health and who is covered in the plan.  CompareNI.com compare a range of different health insurance providers online to help people find the most suitable and cost efficient for them.

CompareNI.com is Northern Ireland’s largest price comparison website and has helped over 650,000 users find savings on household bills and essentials such as health, life and dental insurance.