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CAMHS won't see you now

48-hour appointment target will need more GPs, Labour admits

More GPs are needed if Labour’s plans to ensure a 48-hour appointment target to see a GP can be successfully achieved, the party has admitted.

Writing exclusively for Pulse, shadow health minister Jamie Reed said his party promised to make recruitment ‘a priority’ should it win next year’s general election as this was key to ensuring better access for patients.

The MP for Copeland said better access could be achieved by better promotion of general practice as a career choice to medical students, supporting GP returners back to work and, potentially, funding specific initiatives to encourage recruitment in under-doctored areas.

Under Labour’s plans, patients would also gain a right to be seen by a GP on the same day if they need to be seen quickly and be able to book appointments more than 48 hours ahead ‘with the GP of their choice’. The professional bodies have said they are against the return of the standard, with the GPC saying such targets would lead to ‘counterproductive, perverse behaviour’.

He said: ‘We know we can’t improve access without more GPs, especially in areas of the country with shortages. The last Labour Government increased GPs to record levels, but numbers have slipped back since 2009/10. Worryingly, the Government is far off meeting its stated goal of 3,250 training places a year.’

‘That’s why GP recruitment will be a priority for Labour.’

Last week, Labour pledged an extra £100m for general practice to fund its bid to improve patient access and, during an interview with Pulse, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said this would either be part of the contract or the QOF. However, the party has now confirmed to Pulse that it will launch a consultation with the profession on how to solve this and the other issues facing the profession later on in the year.

Mr Reed said: ‘It will be for surgeries themselves to determine how to use these extra resources and over the next year we will be talking with the profession about the best way to make this extra investment, whether through the contract or as an enhanced service.’

He added: ‘There are also many other challenges facing general practice, including its pivotal role in leading care coordination and managing complex patients, the shift from small organisations to federations or networks, the increasing use of e-health and remote care, the need to invest in improving premises, and the need to improve retention – including through better training and development opportunities for doctors, nurses and other practice staff.’

‘Over the next year, Labour wants to work with the profession to help shape a vision for meeting these challenges, one that places primary care right at the heart of the future NHS.’

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said about the policy: “While we welcome [Labour leader Ed] Miliband’s announcement it must not be another “sticking plaster” solution but part of a broader, long-term, shift in investment. We particularly welcome Mr Milliband’s pledge to scrap the marketization of the NHS, something our members, across the country, have long said is unworkable and undermining their ability to provide joined-up patient care.’


Readers' comments (12)

  • Vinci Ho

    Common sense , Dah!
    More GPs , more funding, less nonsense.

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  • Again we're going down the wrong road. We need more FTE doctors, just inc the number of trainees will lead to costs in term of pensions, contracts etc.

    We should be introducing systems to incentivise full time practice.
    Its the proliferation of part time medicine which undermines the system. Look at other modern health systems - they are not hamstrung with this social engineering project.

    If you want to practice good medicine it can only be done with a majority working full time. anything else and the system collapses - as we are experiencing

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  • At least Labour recognise this truth and concede plans are needed. The tories, in particular Hunt-is a "bullying nutter". His ridiculous multi-millionaire media chums like Amanda Platell (Daily Mail) with their multi-million pound London properties do not accept that constant thuggish rhetoric against GPs has now caused so much damage to the profession that now huge repairs and a massive PR campaign are now needed to save General Practice.

    No junior doctor in their right mind wants to be a GP so their are only 2 choices left:

    1. Make the job less frightening/more attractive
    2. Threaten/intimidate doctors into GP careers.

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  • Plenty of people may enter GP training, so they can the emigrate to Canada or Oz!

    We still need to be realistic ourselves and not jump onto overly simplistic solutions

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  • Incredible! Where can the Labour Party (or anyone else) magically produce a cadre of GPs from at the drop of a hat?

    Has anybody seriously considered expectation management as part of the patient choice agenda?

    As long as patients have unrealistic expectations of the NHS and consult Google BEFORE seeing their medical professional, we will have patient management problems.

    Mind you, I could be wrong.

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  • to Anonymous | Specialist registrar | 21 May 2014 11:18am

    you are obviously very naive or new to medicine or have never worked in General Practice if so please refrain from posting

    part time General Practice = >40 hours a week i.e. if you work nominally 3 days a week you will be working the other 2 doing paperwork, catching up, revalidation tasks etc

    a 5 day a week GP (what you call "full-time" ) would also be working Sat and Sun to manage the extra work the weekdays have generated upwards of 90 hours a week

    being part time is about often about saving your health and practising safely

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  • FAO Anonymous | GP Partner | 21 May 2014 12:35pm

    If all existing GPs were as judgmental & intolerant, it's little wonder you have a recruitment problem, current workloads, unreasonable expectations and political pressure notwithstanding.

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  • I think the anon is frustrated by lack of understanding of work partners do by others on profession. 90 hours/week is over exaggerated but I do work 50-60 hours on average and there is no such thing as completely off work - I write this post whilst I'm on a holiday but having to reply to some emails from my practice that can't wait.

    Anyhow, simply increasing the number of GPs well not do. The demand for appointment will just go up with the ease of access and I'm no time access problem will be back again. I know this as we increased our appointments a few years ago to combat access problem but it only made a difference in the first few months. Now, it's worse then before but all of us doing more work then before!

    The only sustainable method is to control the demand. But this is something politicians would not contemplate as it would not be popular with the voters and they can push the blame onto someone else (us!).

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  • It's the usual Statist nonsense from Labour. They genuinely believe in a central command economy - in health anyway.

    More tractors, comrades?

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  • Fixing primary care is straight forward .
    1) dump internal market
    2) Increase funding £200 + per >80 yrs patients
    3) Dump revalidation /appraisal
    4) All QOF into global sum -no ridiculous DEs

    Recruitment will sort itself out if above is implemented

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