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Burnham: Bring back 48-hour GP appointment target

Labour wants to bring back in a target guaranteeing patients get to see a GP within 48 hours of requesting an appointment, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said.

Speaking at a meeting on the A&E crisis in Parliament yesterday, Mr Burnham indicated the 48-hour pledge introduced by his party but scrapped by the Coalition Government should be re-introduced as part of measures to ease pressure on A&E departments.

Mr Burnham said the target could be put before the Commons for a vote at an opposition day debate on A&E next Wednesday.

The target was scrapped in June 2010, along with a raft of other NHS targets removed soon after the Coalition came into government.

A spokesperson for Mr Burnham told Pulse the target was ‘under consideration’ for next week’s Commons debate.

The spokesperson said: ‘We are hearing many stories of people trying to get a GP appointment and they’re simply not able to – or if they do get through they are not able to get an appointment soon enough and that’s resulting in them going to the nearest available place which is the A&E.’

‘So it’s a matter of people not being able to get in-hours appointments not just out-of-hours.’

He added: ‘The target is certainly something we want to look at – but we need to look at all the details surrounding it before we make an announcement.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • I hope Mr Burnham realizes as primary care has seen increase in demand (I believe the figure is around 4%/year) and decrease in real term funding, he will have to come up with billions in order to keep his pledge.

    It is simply not good enough to announce an unrealistic target and expect GPs to somehow manage this without proper funding.

    P.s. even if he did find the money, where is he going to find doctors to see these patients? Does he know many GPs are leaving/have left the NHS

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  • Vinci Ho

    Andy, so much you are an Evertonian, I cannot agree to everything you said ( a joke from a LFC fan).
    Seriously, without the proper funding , recruitment is going down hill . Stop talking about targets please.....

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  • Do these people learn nothing? Targets such as these imply patients are being kept waiting deliberately. Mr Burnham - there is an increasing shortage of doctors willing to do this job (other than at locum rates). Please don't even think of making promises that affect you not at all and make life even more difficult for those actually doing the work whilst skewing that workload even further. Most patients don't need to be seen within 48 hours. Perhaps add "if necessary" to any such targets and keep them notional. Most of us are doing our best with decreasing resources.

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  • Easy.
    Abolish all appointment systems.
    Sit and wait for 12 hours.
    Typical politicians 'one size fits all aren't I a clever boy'

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  • In the absence of any new ideas Labour are going to bring us full circle back to Advanced Access (Mark II)!
    Yet another rent-a-quote politician mouthing yet another caring, sharing pseudo- promise that he must know the NHS simply can’t deliver.
    Does anyone want to hazard a guess what will happen to (a) the verbal abuse my receptionists suffer, (b) patient satisfaction, and (c) attendance at A&E departments and walk-in centres, when Mr Burnham gets another mis-judged kick at the NHS football?

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  • Andy- WISE UP !!
    Just trying to win votes
    Why not promise all patients that they can see the GP of their choice whenever they want- 24/7. Where they want - ie at home to save them having to go out
    This would be as realistic a promise as your 48 hour access.
    For your information- it is disgraceful to have to explain to someone like you but the patient ILLNESS has and always will dictate the need to be seen
    Please learn that not every patient NEEDS to SEE a GP face to face.
    Many issues can be appropriately sorted without any GP getting involved. Doesn't really matter though because your party hasn't a snowballs chance in hell of being elected.

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  • No mention of patient choice?
    Some GP's only allow appointments to be made for two weeks ahead, but we mustn't forget the ginormous amount of appointments lost due to DNA's!
    GP's should have a cap on the number of patients per WHE, to ensure they are not overworked and patients get the opportunity to be seen by a GP of their choice.
    Patients that DNA should be warned after one occurrence and removed from the list after two. in three months over 1600 appointments were wasted by DNA's!

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