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Conservatives pledge 6,000 new doctors in general practice by 2024/25

The Conservative Party has pledged to create 50 million more GP appointments a year by 6,000 new doctors to general practice by 2024/25, health secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The 6,000 doctors will include 3,000 extra fully qualified GPs and 3,000 trainees, who will be spending longer training in general practice that they do currently.

Mr Hancock has pledged to invest £2.5 billion over four years to increase the number of NHS staff, improve international recruitment and retention of domestic staff, and train 500 more GPs a year.

He also pledged £300m a year to increase the number of non-GP healthcare staff in general practice by an extra 6,000 on top of the 20,000 pledged as part of the GP contract, which will include nurses, physios and pharmacists.

Mr Hancock said: ‘I love our NHS and am incredibly proud of the world-class care it offers patients. We all know that prevention is better than cure - and our GPs are at their heart the best way of helping us all stay out of hospital. I know that it is too often difficult to book an appointment with a GP. We all know the feeling of ringing a GP surgery first thing in the morning, holding on to get an appointment.

‘We recognise our GPs are under increasing pressure, so we will put record funding into our GP surgeries, and to help everyone get the care they need. We will create 50 million extra appointments in GP surgeries each year, with the sort of easy online booking that we expect in other areas of our lives.’

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt made a pledge in 2015 to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020. However, since then, the number of GPs has decreased.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘No one will believe the failing health secretary.  They always make election promises which they fail to deliver on. Indeed Tory ministers promised us 5,000 extra GPs and in fact GP numbers have been falling under the Tories. 

’After years of starving the NHS of cash, it’s got harder and harder to get a GP appointment under this government.

’Labour will invest more in primary care and train more family doctors to deliver millions of extra GP appointments.’

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’The ongoing workforce crisis means patients are waiting far too long for appointments and GPs remain under intolerable pressure to be able to provide safe and sustained care. The Conservative’s commitments to deliver more GPs through additional training places is therefore encouraging. However, a previous Conservative pledge to deliver 5,000 GPs by 2020 has fallen way short of its target, and the number of GPs we have has continued to dwindle. So, we wait with some trepidation to see if this latest promise can deliver.

’The promise to also address the problem of stopping GPs leaving the profession is also welcome, though there is still much work to be done to improve this situation with punitive pension regulations, inadequate premises, archaic IT systems and overly burdensome admin still proving a serious barrier to doctors choosing and remaining in general practice.’

He added: ’The lack of detail as to exactly how all these promises will be made good, particularly with no firm commitment for full reform of the ridiculous pension taxation system, means it remains to be seen whether these long overdue and very necessary improvements will be achieved.’

Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘The latest GP Patient Survey shows that once people can get into their local surgery their experience is overwhelmingly positive but for many getting an appointment in the first place is the problem. These new commitments to improve capacity and access in general practice are welcome but the success of these measures will hinge on the ability to recruit and – more importantly – retain enough GPs and professionals such as physiotherapists and pharmacists.

‘The volume and intensity of GP workloads is driving many to either reduce their hours or leave the profession altogether. While more GPs than ever are being trained, overall GP numbers are falling, with six per cent fewer full time equivalent GPs in September 2018 than in 2015.’

Readers' comments (43)

  • they never learn do they!
    does the electorate realise how much they are being misled?
    I think GMC says it is our duty to tell the truth - perhaps we should for once!

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  • How many times have we heard these promises and how many times have they been broken? It is all so predictable. The fact is that these politicians will say anything that they think will get them elected. Then once they are elected, they tear up their manifesto. Unfortunately for General Practice the minister opening a brand new hospital has much more news appeal than getting General Practice back on its feet. So that is what they will do after the election - if they spend any new money on the NHS at all.

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  • Fake News. Just got my AA statement today.......and another one bites the dust.

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  • Put the sausage meat into the machine and it turns out sausages but it's not much use if they don't end up on the plate.

    And whilst you are at it abolish seniority, don't alter the pension situation and continue to allow the CQC to run rogue and roughshod.

    Why stop at 6000? How about one GP in every wardrobe?

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  • GPs pledge 8,000 will have quit by 2024/25.

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  • 5000 promised by Hunt
    1600 down in that figure at this moment
    Estimated population growth over 5 years needs 2000 to maintain current ratios
    6000 extra now promised by Hancock
    5000+1600+2000+6000 = 14600
    There is a way to solve this - it involves improved terms and conditions including pay and pensions. All the meaningless promises and wringing of hands needs to stop.

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  • I think my previous post was inappropriate. I hereby promise 56 000 new GPs by next year. Vote for me!!!

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  • We've already has this lie from the Tories. How about the 5000 by 2020. They should be held to account. It's disgusting how they can just kick the can down the road like this. What are we supposed to do for the next 4 years?

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  • I have met four GPs in the last month who are under 45 and are working their notice as partners. I met another salaried GP, late forties, this weekend who is currently carrying their failing-to-practice and has just collapsed in a heap with the stress of 12-15 hour non-stop days. It's not looking good if you keep refilling the bucket which is full of holes.

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  • ...when will the general public get the message? Electioneering = Lies, damn lies and statistics! Andrew Marr gave the example of the Police Cuts of 20,000 police and the new pledge of 20,000 more police. It's like taking your raincoat away in a storm and several years later saying here's a new raincoat so everything is fine now, isn't it??
    The treatment of NHS GPs and Hospital consultants over the years has sapped morale and the willingness to do all those unpaid extras that we used to obligingly do as 'part of the job' - now so much has been taken away, so much added to the job and no thanks (£s would be nice too!)that our capacity to stand still let alone push on is now zero. As a past GP trainer this is hard work and this too has been made less attractive. Fully experienced GP takes time out to help train newbie inexperienced GP so there is some initial loss of availability too that doesn't seem to have been factored in. Where are all the extra trainers going to come from - were we not thinking that GP training needed to be extended further too?

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