THOUSANDS of patients are waiting days for GP appointments in mid Essex, as the NHS reveals about half of appointments are booked more than two days in advance.

NHS Digital has published data from GP surgeries across the country based on appointments seen in July.

Of the 23,341 appointments at GP practices in Braintree in July, almost 12,000 took place within 24 hours of the patient contacting their surgery, most of which were on the same day.

Braintree and Witham Times: Practice - Halstead's Elizabeth Courtauld SurgeryPractice - Halstead's Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery (Image: Newsquest)

Halstead’s Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery performed slightly better, with 53 per cent of appointments seen within 24 hours.

Witham and Maldon GPs saw 17,008 appointments, 51 per cent of which were completed within 24 hours.

But a whopping 22 per cent of the appointments in Witham and Maldon were booked more than 28 days in advance.

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The data revealed a huge disparity between practices where patients are waiting more than four weeks to be seen.

For example, at Braintree’s Church Lane Surgery, only 29 of its 4,302 appointments in July were booked more than 28 days in advance.

But at the Burnham Surgery, in Foundry Lane, which saw a similar number of patients, 725 appointments were completed after a wait of more than four weeks.

Guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care in May said GP surgeries should offer non-urgent appointments within two weeks, or otherwise refer patients to call NHS 111 or visit a pharmacy.

The Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board said it is working with practices and primary care networks to develop a local response to the national plan to recover access to primary care services.

A spokesperson said: "A number of national and local initiatives will support primary care to manage the demands upon services. 

"These initiatives will include widescale roll-out of cloud-based telephony services, development of alternative pathways to primary care such as community pharmacy, physiotherapy services and community optometry services, and support programmes for practices to undertake internal redesign of systems and processes to better match demand and capacity.

"Practices operate their own individual access models. 

"Some practices triage all activity on the day whereas some allow greater ability to book in advance where appropriate. This will result in some variation between practices."