STAFF at Hampshire GP practices are suffering with poor mental health due to an "avalanche of patient demand", it has been claimed.

A spokesperson from Hedge End Medical Centre, on Lower Northam Road, has spoken out about the overwhelming pressure currently facing GP staff as patients struggle to book appointments.

The practice has taken a stand to help its staff and other GPs in the area and is urging patients to check online information in a bid to ease the wait.

"We have a really supportive group of patients, but they are understandably frustrated about the problems with getting a GP appointment," they said.

"I have seen an increase in mental health problems among the staff across the team who are facing the avalanche of patient demand, and there have been days where I have been completely overwhelmed too."

Hedge End Medical Centre claims that they have seen a surge in demand for access to GPs since March this year.

Data from the CCG has shown that in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, almost 400,000 GP appointments were given in July 2021, in addition to almost 380,000 appointments with other specialist roles working in GP practices.

The spokesperson at Hedge End Medical Centre explained that it is believed to be due to people who have put their problem off due to Covid, people who are on the wait list for secondary care (hospital) appointments needing help while waiting, lots more mental health problems than usual, an increasing list size due to the local new builds, and other things.

They said that core funding is £97.28 per patient per year, and although this was a £3.82 per patient increase since last year, this "doesn’t come close" to matching the 20 per cent increase in demand since March.

They added: "We have taken on extra GPs and staff to help keep pace with the increased list size, but we cannot subsidise the staffing the increase in demand needs.

"Even if we could, there are very few GPs out there looking for a job."

The service is currently not pre-booking appointments as it has been "very disruptive" when cancelling whole clinics when GPs are isolating or unwell.

The practice explained that early this year the phone service was updated. This means patients can wait in a queue to speak to a member of staff and includes other options including the flu and Covid vaccination hotline at specific times of the day.

A spokesperson from CCG said: "We are hugely grateful for the amazing efforts of our teams in local practices, who are working hard to make sure patients receive the right care at the right time, and to our patients for their ongoing support.

"This is on top of their work on the local COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes.

Across Hampshire and Isle of Wight, every GP practice is providing face-to-face as well as telephone and online appointments, and continuing to offer all of these methods of consultation is part of making primary care as accessible as possible.