Health chiefs have responded to ‘shocking’ figures which show that Horsham and Mid Sussex are among the worst areas in the country for GP access.
Members of the Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group say that they are working closely with local GP practices to develop new ways of working to meet growing demand.
Analysis by the BBC has shown that Horsham and Mid Sussex have 2,997 patients per GP, second only to Swale in Kent which has 3,342.
The Royal College of GPs called the news ‘shocking’ and said shortages of GPs could put care at risk.
But a spokesman for the Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG is working closely with local GP Practices and regional workforce planning teams to develop new ways of working to meet growing demand for primary care and address our GP recruitment challenges.
“Patients are living longer and with increasingly complex needs, which means we need to adapt how we care for them. We must be smarter about how we use and broaden the variety of skilled healthcare professionals within primary care (in line with the recently published NHS Long Term Plan), and address many of the pressures placed upon GPs as individuals.
“We are already working very differently to ensure we make the most of the wider NHS workforce. For example in Horsham and Mid Sussex:
“Communities of Practice brings together NHS and social care staff into integrated multidisciplinary teams who work closely with GPs, local hospital staff and others in the community to ensure patients with complex or long-term health conditions get the support they need and can proactively look after themselves.
“The Paramedic Practitioners home visiting service works across a number of GP Practices to provide urgent home visits to patients with frailty and has seen a positive impact on patient experience and clinical outcomes.
“Both of these projects aim to reduce demand on GP-led care.
“NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG is currently focussed on refreshing its Primary Care Strategic Estates Strategy to assess population growth and how we respond to that.
“Despite experiencing challenges of increased demand with fewer resources, local GP practices ensure appointments are available daily, with urgent cases taking priority. From October last year all also offer registered patients access to both routine and urgent appointments at evenings and weekends.
“We encourage people to use GP appointments wisely and self-manage minor illnesses when possible, as well as using alternative services, such as pharmacists and NHS 111.”