GPs inundated with patients1st January 2009
Figures suggest that GPs in England have been inundated with patients over the festive period.
The NHS Alliance says that there has been a 25% rise in demand for GP out-of-hours services – and even higher in some parts – with many calls about flu.
Family doctors have been advising patients to stock up on flu remedies and seek advice from pharmacists.
Worst affected areas have been the West Midlands, where figures were up 60% on last year, and Yorkshire which saw a 34% rise in out-of-hours calls.
The service for Birmingham and Solihull – covering 1.5 million patients – took 6,500 calls over Christmas, about one for every 150 people.
NHS Alliance Primary Care Lead Rick Stern said: "The ambulance services are under pressure, but we should not forget that those working in primary care are also having to cope with significant demand."
Despite the figures, the Royal College of GPs said its weekly surveillance data suggested no significant change in levels of flu despite forecasts that this winter could be the worst flu season in almost a decade.
RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said doctors around the country had laid on additional surgeries and taken on more out-of-hours work.
He advised: "The vast majority of people with colds and flu just need to take paracetamol for pain and fever, have lots of drinks and rest."
However, he said that people who had existing heart and chest conditions needed to seek advice if they found their symptoms lingered or started to get worse.
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Title: GPs inundated with patients
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9688
Date Added: 1st Jan 2009