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GP appointments will be unattainable in five years' time, Labour warns

Patients will be hard-pressed to see a GP ‘at all’ in five years’ time if the current UK Government is re-elected this May, the Labour Party has claimed upon launching a four-month campaign to ‘save the NHS’.

A dossier of NHS statistics compiled by the party said that if the current trends continue then by 2020 over 20 million patients will be left waiting for a week or more to see a GP or not even be able to get an appointment.

Meanwhile Labour’s plan for the health service – which includes a £2.5 billion per year investment in the NHS to, among other things, train 8,000 more GPs - would ‘guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and on the same day for those who need it’, the party said.

The pledge from the Opposition comes despite the plans for a resurrection of the 48-hour GP appointment target coming under heavy fire from GP leaders when announced last year.

The dossier said: ‘[T]he Tory-led Government has made it harder to see your GP. One in four people now wait a week or more to see or speak to a GP, and a recent survey found 60% of people saying they waited longer than 48 hours for a GP appointment.

‘Based on the past five years, if the Tories are allowed to carry on as they have been, another five years would make the NHS unrecognisable, putting it on course for… [o]ver 20 million people waiting a week or more for a GP appointment, or unable to get one at all.’

Launching the campaign, Douglas Alexander, Labour’s chair of election strategy, said: ‘Today we are launching a four month campaign to make clear that our health service as you know it won’t survive another five years of [Prime Minister] David Cameron. The Tories are already breaking half of the waiting time guarantees to patients enshrined in the NHS Constitution, including on cancer and A&E.

‘A Tory second term would put us on course for ever-longer waits for patients because they have no plan to give the NHS the cash it needs and want to take public spending back to 1930s levels. And another five years of this rotten government could put us on course for a doubling of the scale of privatisation as competition is put before patient care.

‘That is why the NHS is on the ballot paper at this election. And that is why we will work morning, noon and night to save it.’

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that by 2020 everyone will be able to access a GP practice seven days a week - from 8 ‘til 8 - if the Conservative Party wins the general election.

Labour has also pledged to remove competition aspects from the Health and Social Care Act if they regain power.

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Readers' comments (20)

  • They've got a point. But we need GPs who are not burnout and more trainees. The Country is haemorrhaging GPs overseas and over the next 18 month there is something like a 15% decrease including the retirements.

    The PM wants 8-8 opening 7 days a week - this is impossible even if funding increases due to staff shortages.

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  • this article is total scaremongering ... I give it two years

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  • Today I'm doing a locum (on my day off !)
    Patients at this market Town in the Midlands are waiting 3 weeks for a routine appt.

    They are having a job getting the emergency appts for today or tomorrow. The triage doctors has just done 118 telephone calls up to 12.30. There is no way they have enough face-to-face appts to "convert" many of those.

    I practically had a "heart attack" just seeing that list grow and seeing the reasons they wanted to speak with a doctor below them!

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  • Jeremy Hunt is a lunatic.

    PULSE magazine might not like me saying this but I make NO apology for stating what is in the public's interest to state.

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  • perhaps if people tried a bit of self care or indeed common sense and personal responsibility (and i defintiely include politicians here) instead of expecting us to sort out their housing/social life/self limiting illness/crap life syndrome/benefits/holidays/jobs then we wouldnt be so pressed for appointments........

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  • Harry Longman

    Labour can see it's too difficult to get a GP appointment, just like everyone else can. But their target solution is doomed to perverse outcomes, just like every other NHS target. Astonishing that they haven't learnt this.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I would love to know where the 8,000 extra GPs would come from- even if there were 10Bn£ extra.

    Anyway, for me, New Liebour started the rot with Gordon Brown's extended hours or a pay cut and the BMA's usual acquiescence.

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  • Maybe if we got rid of the 10 - 20% patient DNA rates (higher with nurses) then we could offer patients more timely planned care appointments.

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  • politicians don't like it but in the end it comes down to pay and conditions, people are leaving in droves either overseas or retiring and in a democracy you cannot force doctors to work in conditions they reject,the Daily Mail cannot understand what is happening, they quote patients representatives who state we are the best paid doctors in the WORLD (not true) they champion the altruism of Merion Thomas but wonder why there is a workforce crisis. The Tories have engineered the current state of affairs but Labour also despise Doctors,go to Australia I made the mistake of coming back,by the way the DM monitors these pages so you cannot use your name when posting without being exposed to their vile abuse

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  • This might have the affect of bringing in co-payments and a sensible funding model for primary care like other developed countries. In the mean time we haemorrhage GPs and other essential healthcare workers until the public realise they will have to pay more and that they have been misled by the politicians.

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