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Independents' Day

‘Improved GP access’ included in Queen’s Speech

Government plans to increase access to GPs were made a focus of the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of Parliament this morning.

The speech – outlining the Government’s key priorities for the next five years – signalled ministers are sticking to plans to increase patient access to GPs through seven-day working, despite calls from the profession to ‘jettison pipe dreams’ over the policy, and poor uptake of routine weekend GP appointments under pilot schemes.

In her speech, The Queen said: ‘In England, my Government will secure the future of the National Health Service by implementing the National Health Service’s own five-year plan, by increasing the health budget, integrating healthcare and social care, and ensuring the National Health Service works on a seven-day basis.

‘Measures will be introduced to improve access to general practitioners and to mental healthcare.’

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said the NHS ‘already provides many GP and hospital services seven days a week’ and questioned how the Government planned to address the NHS funding gap and shortage of GPs.

Dr Porter said: ‘The real question for the Government is how they plan to deliver more care when the NHS is facing a huge funding gap and there is a chronic shortage of GPs and hospital doctors, especially in emergency medicine, where access to 24-hour care is vital.’

He added: ‘General practice is already struggling to cope with rising demand from an ageing population, carrying out 40m more consultations a year than in 2008 while also facing a recruitment and retention crisis… With existing services struggling to cope, the Government must explain how it will fund and staff more GP and hospital services.’

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker also questioned how increased access could be achieved when GPs were already overloaded.

Dr Baker said: ‘In addition to existing out of hours GP services, many practices are already offering extended opening times but it is difficult to see how we can deliver this more widely with current resources, especially when there is a severe shortage of GPs.’

However she added that the College was ‘pleased’ the Government was committed to delivering Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View, and hoped it would ‘honour its promise of 5,000 additional GPs as a matter of urgency’.

Dr Baker added: ‘We look forward to working with the Government to increase investment for general practice and to boost the GP workforce, so that we can give all our patients the care they need and deserve.’

Meanwhile the GMC said it was ‘deeply disappointed’ the Government had not mentioned reform of regulations for healthcare professionals in the wake of the Francis report.

Chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘We are deeply disappointed that the government has not taken this opportunity to improve patient safety by modernising the regulation of healthcare professionals.’

He added: ‘I hope the government will make these reforms a priority and introduce legislation as soon as possible. If taken forward, the draft Bill by the Law Commissions of the UK would allow us to respond more quickly and effectively to protect patients and maintain the standards of good medical practice.’


Readers' comments (20)

  • My own opinion is that the Government is deliberately stoking up demand for greater access to health care. This is to create a market for the future. At some stage there will be an announcement that only X numbers of consultations are allowed per year. If patients receive more than that they will have to pay out of pocket or through private insurance.

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  • It's just politicking, we all know that GPs are already providing cover 24/7/365 through the deliberately underfunded OOH services and that there are not enough GPs in the country to run hospital style shift rotas. The government are just trying to stoke up demand so they can flog primary care to their chums in the city. The reality is that so-called '7 day working' will mean a few extra inefficient walk-in clinics, spending money that would be better allocated to the current system that is configured to look after those with the most need. However, this of course, is not a vote winner and so the spin machine rolls on.

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  • ballbags. Access is already too good for something state run and free at point of access. Those that demand immediate satisfaction should pay for it unless its urgent as they do in secondary care.
    As you say they want everyone to feel they need a doc for every little thing so when they take it away people will be happy to pay handsomely for it.

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  • seven day workin ' yore avin a larf ,mate .

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  • '' I cannot work more than 6 sessions a week. This is all I am destined to do. No way am I going to work more. Rest of the time I want to work hard by relaxing at home. We want more funding. Blah, Blah, Blah........... ''

    Thank God, such statements have gone into deaf ears

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  • ''In 2012-13, $55.9 billion was spent on Hospitals in Australia, $52.9 billion on Primary health care and $29.9 billion on Other recurrent areas of health spending.''

    Quote from: Health expenditure Australia 2012–13: analysis by sector. released: 19 Dec 2014 author: AIHW media release. ISBN 978-1-74249-680-1; Cat. no. HWE 62; 101pp.; $15

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  • 2:04pm

    £50 billion is spent on health care for 23 million population in Australia.

    £100 billion is spent on NHS for 65 million population in the UK

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  • Anonymous | Salaried GP | 27 May 2015 1:54pm

    100% agree with you - that's why i want a split NHS and private sector.

    i will work in the private sector for lot's of cash and you can see NHS patients 10 sessions a week in the NHS.

    see everybody's a winner !

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  • Oliver Cromwell did more for parliament then one will ever realise and yet my dear citizens subjects jesters fair maidens and nobility was still off with his head eventually
    There is no way Royalty will ever go against parliament or say anything against parliament not now not ever again
    Remember Dr we are all just pawns in this game of life nothing more nothing Kings , No Queens , No Bishops Knights or Rooks just pawns who are on strings moved by the puppet masters
    Cry me a river all you want , it will never matter
    In summary ride the wave dudes and dudettes ride it high and low and just go with the flow just go wit the flow smile and just think que sera sera c'est la vie mon dieu c' est la vie
    Au revoir

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  • Quit and strike, or shut up and take it like a man!!! Ex-UK GP partner, now happy.....

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