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Coffey wants to be ‘more ambitious’ than two-week waits for GP appointments

Coffey wants to be ‘more ambitious’ than two-week waits for GP appointments

The health secretary has indicated that she wants to go further than her two-week wait target for GP appointments.

And she said that it is ‘perfectly reasonable’ for patients to expect to see their GP within a fortnight.

Dr Thérèse Coffey’s new plan for patient access last month set out a range of measures to improve access to GP practices, including two-week GP appointment targets and the new publication of practice-level appointment data.

But speaking at the annual Conservative party conference in Birmingham today, she said that she would ‘like to be more ambitious’.

She said: ‘I think it is perfectly reasonable when people need to see a GP, they should expect to do so within a fortnight. 

‘Of course, I would like to be more ambitious, and while I will not be prescriptive on how GPs interact with their patients, I am clear patients must be able to see their doctors promptly.’

She added: ‘To help achieve these priorities, I will publish a lot more information for patients so they can see how their local NHS is performing, including their GP practice, and on access to NHS care and treatment.’

The health secretary added that ‘too many’ patients do not have a good experience of getting a GP appointment.

She said: ‘Let’s be honest – while most patients receiving care in our NHS have a good experience, too many do not.

‘Whether it’s the 8am scramble to see a GP, or the long waits to get tests or treatment, or the struggle to see an NHS dentist at all.’

And Dr Coffey said that she wants to be ‘honest’ about the ‘scale of the challenge ahead of us’, saying the Government must ‘be prepared to hold the NHS to account’.

She also set out that:

  • She will make it easier for GPs registered outside England to register to practise in the country
  • She wants to improve capacity in the community so that people can be cared for ‘at home’ rather than staying in hospital ‘unnecessarily’
  • The Government will spend £173bn on health and social care in England this year

And she claimed that her plan for patients, announced last month, will reduce bureaucracy and ‘improve performance’ in the NHS.

Responding to the speech, BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield said: ‘Today we saw another speech from the health secretary in which very little was actually said.

‘She said she had “listened to why people say they are leaving the NHS”, yet she has continued to ignore our request to meet with junior doctors as they demand pay restoration, to the point where they are now forced to go out and ballot for industrial action.’

He added that ‘the door is still open for dialogue’ but that that the health secretary has not ‘shown the willingness to use it’ at any point in the last month.

He said: ‘Without more willingness to listen to those at the frontline, this Government has very dim hopes of confronting what could be an extremely painful winter for the NHS and for the country.’

The health secretary and deputy prime minister’s Our plan for patients set an ‘expectation’ that GP practices offer non-urgent appointments to patients within two weeks as well as same-day urgent appointments.

Alongside this, data on how many appointments each GP practice is offering and appointment waiting times will be published starting from November this year.

Dr Coffey has indicated that the only repercussion for practices that do not meet the expectations would be the potential of patients switching GP.

And the BMA has stressed that none of the measures are ‘underpinned by any contractual agreements’.

However, it warned of the damage the ‘divisive’ announcement could do to GPs’ relationship with their patients, saying that practices have been ‘set up to fail’.

Ahead of the publication of the full plan, the BMA and RCGP both reacted with dismay to the announcement of new targets for general practice.

Speaking at his own party conference last week, the shadow health secretary said that patients ‘deserve better than a two-week wait’ for GP appointments and a Labour Government would have ‘higher standards’.

Meanwhile, NHS England last week announced that it has deferred the incentive scheme target for GP networks to offer patients appointments within two weeks, in a bid to relieve practice workload over the winter.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 4 October, 2022 5:29 pm

Let’s be honest, most people do not have a good experience of you, your corrupt friends or sell-off agenda. Shame your old tricks don’t work anymore.

Michael Mullineux 4 October, 2022 5:33 pm

Wishlist delusional rhetoric from another clueless Health Secretary.

Slobber Dog 4 October, 2022 5:42 pm

Meanwhile, back on earth…….

David jenkins 4 October, 2022 6:22 pm

what’s the big rush to see us within two weeks for non urgent stuff ?

when the proper doctors in the hospital see routine stuff in a timely fashion, then maybe we will too.

here in wales you don’t even get an outpatient appointment in under two years !!

John Clements 4 October, 2022 7:42 pm

What does she mean by ‘their GP’. Or does she mean a GP. If its ‘their GP’ this means that we can never have more than a week off work at once?

Mike Pearce 4 October, 2022 8:39 pm


David Evans 4 October, 2022 8:51 pm

22 years in…full time GP partner. Today was another flat out non stop slog from 8 to 6-30. No time to dwell on how rubbish the job has become. It’s just endless firefighting and quick decisions. Neither political party has an idea of how to improve primary care. Knowing I will be out in 4 years helps but I think it is going to get worse.

Richard Greenway 5 October, 2022 10:58 am

Dear Health Secretary
Please focus on Rentention first. If you retain GPs, you can then recruit.
You can lose GPs much quicker than you can train them.


-Drop EA plans for October and give this money unconditionally to practices via PCNs for winter pressure.
-Give all unspent (unspendable) ARR monies to PCNs/ Pracvtices allocated for staffing of their choice, including on-costs / NI /additional pension charges or future additional employees tax.
– Drop prescriptive “GP must supervise ARR for x hours” drain on GP time- replace with light touch.
– Employing GP practices to be given additional premium for risks associated with employment of same to cover HR/ Insurance costs
– De-register NHS Pension Scheme for GP /exempt from annual/ lifetime allowance charges.

Truth Finder 5 October, 2022 11:39 am

Where’s the staff? Focus on retention first. She is clueless. The new graduates coming seem rubbish. perhaps Covid affected their training.

David Turner 5 October, 2022 11:42 am

I don’t take any of them seriously.

David Jarvis 5 October, 2022 12:56 pm

I take umbridge at a fellow Dr calling them rubbish. Very unfair. Inexperienced and erhaps naive requiring teaching developing and nurturing. If your Juniors are rubbish you need to look in the mirror for the cause. I have been very impressed with the standard of F2’s we get through our practice. Bright hardworking keen to learn but also cautious and sensible as to their own capabilities. They chalenge you to justify why you do something. It is mentally stimulating having them around.

James Weems 5 October, 2022 11:29 pm

Will there also be transparency for hospital waiting times and a drive to get the special doctors seeing patients f2f too? Oh and to also stop treating us like community house officers.

Lloyd Clever 7 October, 2022 7:18 am

Be as ambitious as you like. We need more GPs.

Kevlar Cardie 7 October, 2022 9:33 am

We’re under more pressure than her heel spurs.