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Independents' Day

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.’

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Readers' comments (43)

  • Jokes are only funny the first time you tell em!

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  • Yawn,this new contract will do the opposite.

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  • The experienced doctors are either cutting down sessions or leaving and the new ones would soon do the same.
    Pay to work, a toxic practice climate, no one will do more as it is not worth it.

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  • David Banner

    Laugh or cry?
    Which one did you do after reading this garbage?
    I laughed, then felt miserable all morning. Didn’t cry, though. They’ve broken me already,

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  • There is a major difference between talk the talk and walk the walk.

    Unfortunately politicians can only do one.

    Meanwhile the the rest of us left will manfully struggle while politicians have 5 weeks campaigning.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Every election is the same BUT this one differs from the others in the fashion that none of the other issues on their manifestos would appeal to more than half of the voters ( well , we all know the split between Leave and Remain anyway).
    So as I wrote before , NHS is the only territory which ‘guarantees’ some trustworthiness and hence , political appeal to those voters , at least , in the centre ground ( if centre ground still bloody exists ). NHS is even more appealing to climate changes in UK as far as battlegrounds of general election is concerning. Let’s be honest on this .
    Whether these politicians really believe what they are saying in front of voters about NHS is no longer important, it is politically suicidal if any party does not have a go on NHS in this most extraordinary general election .
    Is it any ‘good’ to us (GP) realistically from this circumstances? I do not want to be judgemental from the outset as the story is unfolding. And one day of politics is too long .
    Yes , probably nothing constructive is going to happen ? We will be still the dumping ground for secondary care’s ‘unwanted’ workload . But it is the political narrative(s) which set an ‘opportunity’ for those who wanted to represent us . Whether they really would go belligerent exploiting this parody.
    If one remembers history well enough of how we had been treated by government(s) so far , I suppose there is no other ‘better time’ ( gosh , I hate this term) to seek revenge.
    So, adding to my old slogan ‘ the new government needs us more than we need it .’, this is the second election slogan
    ‘ Treat GPs like shit , you do not get elected .’

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  • Took Early Retirement

    In addition to the last 5,000 one presumes?

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  • doctordog.

    How about some golden handcuffs?

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  • As I remember - there were supposed to be an EXTRA 5,000 GPs by 2020 ( Ref Darth Vader) - but we are 2,000 down before we start - so with extra 6,000 that makes ..... -1,000!! Never was much good at maths.

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  • Remember guys-prevention is better than cure.

    Ergo- our practice should change such that we do our utmost to prevent old age and the corresponding co-morbidity thereby easing the pressure on the system. We should also applaud the inordinate waits for an ambulance, because preventing admission is better than getting patients in for a cure.

    Personally, I await with interest to see how the UK populace, who will not be patronised as not knowing what they voted for in the EU referendum, choose to cast their votes in the election.

    A wise person once said people get the leaders they deserve.

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