Unity Health York, which provides primary care for thousands of residents and students, have notified patients that due to ‘moving to a new IT system’ no GP appointments will be available for nearly a month.
All those registered with Unity Health received a short message yesterday (20th July) announcing that ‘no appointments will be available from now until 17th August for all clinicians unless it’s an acute medical problem’. Unity Health website also states that no electronic prescriptions will be sent during this time. This unexpected announcement has caused serious concern amongst those registered with the health provider.
Unity Health serves around 23,000 patients in York and has two surgeries - Kimberlow Hill and Wenlock Terrace.
York is already experiencing a GP crisis, with nearly 20,000 residents having to wait more than 2 weeks to access a GP, according to latest NHS data.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Executive Member with responsibility for health integration, commented:
“It’s simply unacceptable that vulnerable residents with long term conditions will now face weeks of no access to vital medical support or medication reviews.
“GPs continue to go above and beyond, working tirelessly despite the pressures of the pandemic and the impact of chronic long term underfunding. However, I am deeply concerned that this move by Unity Health will have serious impact on the most vulnerable. As thousands across the city already struggle to access primary care day to day, this news will only further add to growing issue in York and is likely to have a knock-on impact on our hospital and A&E.
“I will be urgently contacting representatives of Unity Health and raising the matter at a meeting of the Health and Care Alliance on Monday, to see if anything can be done to retain access to crucial primary care for thousands of York residents.”
Andrew Mortimer, local resident who will be impacted by the announced plans, added:
“It’s really worrying to not be able to have any access to my GP for nearly a month. I absolutely appreciate the pressures our GPs are under, but to stop access to primary care for a month due to IT changes seems unreasonable and dangerous. I worry that the impact of this move will stretch well beyond just this month, as the missed appointments and growing demand will have to be addressed nearing the busy autumn and winter months.
“We have had issues accessing local GPs as well as dentists for a considerable time now, so this decision will only worsen the situation and prolong the crisis.”