ALMOST half of Islanders have waited more than eight days for a routine doctors appointment, new figures show.

The UK has lost 1,456 GPs in the last two-and-a-half years.

Healthwatch Isle of Wight surveyed 2,000 Islanders, asking how easy it was to get an appointment and to find out what services residents wanted to see on the Island.

Of those surveyed, 20 per cent said they had waited eight to 14 days for an appointment, with 24 per cent having to wait more than two weeks to see their GP for a non-urgent appointment.

Fears have been raised the Island’s GP recruitment crisis is spiralling out of control and, in July, Sandown Medical Centre closed its lists to new patients, due to a shortage of doctors.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Sandown announced it was again accepting new patients.

On the Island there are 16 GP practices with 77 GPs. However, some doctors are nearing retirement age.

NHS England has awarded the Island £400,000 to help tackle the GP recruitment crisis.

The majority of people surveyed by Healthwatch said they were offered GP appointments at convenient times, although 35 per cent said they had at some point been unable to access an appointment at all due to inconvenient opening times.

One person said: “I’ve been unable to get an appointment on far too many occasions.”

Another added: “They are very unhelpful, and long waits to get appointments.”

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of Islanders said they had rung 111 because they were unable to access a GP appointment.

Last week it was announced Islanders would be able to attend doctors appointments in the evenings and on weekends, bookable up to seven days in advance.

Out of those surveyed, the most popular slot was 8am to 11.30am on Saturday.

Only 12 per cent of patients said they used the online booking system — although Healthwatch said this may be due to many practices offering only on-the-day appointments.

Mental health was a theme that ran throughout the feedback, with more than 50 per cent identifying themselves as having a mental health condition. Feedback suggested the provision for mental health care was inadequate.

The survey has now been submitted to the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group for review.