GPs in Derbyshire only taking urgent appointments this month due to staff shortages of 30%

GPs in Derbyshire will only manage urgent appointments for the rest of January in a bid to cope with staff shortages caused by the spread of the Omicron variant.

It follows a similar move before Christmas, which enabled staff to focus on providing Covid vaccinations. 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 of 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. 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.

Staff shortages caused by Covid have increased pressure on GPs in Derbyshire.

"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 and symptoms that may suggest cancer, such as new, unexplained bleeding, breast lumps and 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.