MORE than half of a sample of GP patients said they had difficulty making appointments, a survey has revealed

The study, by Healthwatch Barnsley, covers the period between November 22 and December 6.

The healthcare watchdog - which has a statutory duty to ensure adequate health and social care - said 176 of 302 people, or 58 per cent, said they were unable to get through on their local GP surgery’s phone line.

The majority of patients were in the North and Penistone wards - 52 and 51 respectively - while 34 were in the South ward, 16 in the Central ward, 15 in the Dearne and eight in the North East.

NHS figures show more than 60,000 of 1.2 million appointments across Barnsley were missed from last May to April of this year, while 71,757 were put down as ‘unknown’ as there was no record as to whether a patient turned up or not.