GP access has gone backwards under this government
Labour in Government transformed GP access through a combination of investment and reform. By 2010, the vast majority (80%) of patients could get a GP appointment within 48 hours.
But David Cameron has made it harder to see your GP:
He scrapped Labour’s guarantee of a GP appointment in 48 hours; the Tory-led Government said this was “no longer a priority”.
He cut funding for Labour’s GP extended opening hours scheme, and as a result 854 fewer practices are open at evening and weekends.
Now, people are waiting longer and longer for appointments:
In a recent survey by the Patients Association, 60% of people said they waited longer than 48 hours to see a GP.
Over a quarter of the public say that last time they tried to book a GP appointment, they couldn’t get one in the same week.
Nearly three quarters of GPs say waiting times for appointments are going to get worse.
This is one of the reasons why we have a crisis in A&E, with the number waiting over 4 hours at its highest for a decade. The Government’s own review of emergency care highlighted lack of GP access as a key reason for the pressures on A&E.
Labour will introduce a new GP access guarantee – so there are clear service standards for patients.
Many GPs do already do this, but we want to see this as a clear standard right across the NHS, in every practice.
There will be a guarantee of a GP appointment within 48 hours. And on top of that, for those patients who need it, maybe because they are elderly or worried about their children or have an urgent problem, we want to see them get a same-day appointment with their surgery.
That means anyone who wants it getting a phone-call back on the day you call, speaking to a nurse or doctor, and if its urgent getting that same-day appointment. And if it isn’t urgent, you still have the right to a guaranteed appointment within 48 hours.
This will be a big help for people who need a quick opinion – like a parent whose child is ill – and in the process will help tackle pressures on A&E. And everyone will know that they have the underlying guarantee of a face-to-face GP appointment within 48 hours.
We will also give people the right to book an appointment more than 48 hours ahead with the GP of their choice. This is particularly important for people with complex needs who need continuity of care with the same doctor.
Funding the guarantee
Some surgeries already deliver access at this level but we want to make it standard across the service. That means putting these guarantees in place, but also additional resources put into primary care.
So we propose to invest £100m more in general practice to help ease current pressures and support the delivery of these new access standards. Some of this investment will be used as an incentive for surgeries to deliver the new access guarantee – which they won’t get unless they deliver on it.
This extra investment could help deliver at least three million extra appointments.
We will fund this by saving £100m from scrapping the competition rules that are creating huge waste and bureaucracy in the NHS under this government. We will repeal David Cameron’s new market framework, enabling us to cut spending on competition lawyers and other unnecessary activity. We will also clamp down on the consultancy spending by the new bodies created in David Cameron’s reorganisation.