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Labour to ‘reform’ general practice with new ‘neighbourhood health centres’

Labour to ‘reform’ general practice with new ‘neighbourhood health centres’

Labour’s manifesto has pledged to ‘reform’ primary care, trialling ‘neighbourhood health centres’ which would have GPs and other community health staff ‘under one roof’.

The manifesto carries no promises of increased investment in general practice but says it will ‘return the family doctor’.

According to the document, published this morning, ‘GPs are the front door to the health service for most people’, with ‘excellent primary care’ the ‘key to earlier diagnosis’.

However it claimed that ‘too often it is not possible to get an appointment, so Labour will reform the system’.

The manifesto pledged to:

  • ‘trial Neighbourhood Health Centres, by bringing together existing services such as family doctors, district nurses, care workers, physiotherapists, palliative care, and mental health specialists under one roof’
  • ‘take the pressure off GP surgeries, by improving access to services and treatment through new routes’ including creating a ‘Community Pharmacist Prescribing Service’, ‘granting more pharmacists independent prescribing rights where clinically appropriate’
  • ‘allow other professionals, such as opticians, to make direct referrals to specialist services or tests, as well as expanding self-referral routes where appropriate’, to take pressure off GPs.

The manifesto also reiterated promises to ‘cut NHS waiting times’ with ‘40,000 more appointments every week’ and ‘doubling the number of scanners’.

The Labour Party had already said it would fund this by cracking down on tax loopholes for the wealthy.

The manifesto said the party ‘will abolish non-dom status once and for all, replacing it with a modern scheme for people genuinely in the country for a short period’.

Labour also wants to ‘modernise HMRC and change the law to tackle tax avoidance’.

‘This, combined with a renewed focus on tax avoidance by large businesses and the wealthy, will begin to close the tax gap and ensure everyone pays their fair share,’ the manifesto said.

It also made clear that Labour has no intention of changing the amount of National Insurance people pay.

The document said: ‘Labour will not increase taxes on working people, which is why we will not increase National Insurance, the basic, higher, or additional rates of Income Tax, or VAT.’

The manifesto also pledges to recruit an additional 8,500 new mental health staff ‘to treat children and adults’ through Labour’s first term in Parliament

Earlier this week, Labour revealed it had scrapped the plans to reintroduce the pension lifetime allowance – a move that was welcomed by doctors. This was not mentioned within today’s manifesto.

The manifesto also made no mention regarding the party’s plans for the future of the GP partnership model or the GP contract.

Labour has not been clear on its plans for the GP partnership model in recent years, swinging from plans to scrap it entirely to a more open-minded position months later.

The King’s Fund chief executive Sarah Woolnough said: ‘The broad ambitions for health and care set out in Labour’s manifesto tick many of the right boxes. Bolstering out of hospital care and focusing on preventing illness as well as treating it would lead to a healthier population and sustainable health service.

‘But the individual pledges in the manifesto are at best only a policy downpayment on achieving those longer-term reforms. In and of themselves, the specific commitments set out by Labour lack some concrete detail and are unlikely to deliver the scale of change the party is promising.

‘The manifesto also makes a number of key commitments without clarity on the spending implications for health and care budgets.’

Health Foundation chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon said:

‘The Labour Party has set out a bold vision for addressing some of the most pressing issues facing the UK’s health and the future of public services but lacks detail on how its goals will be delivered and paid for.

‘Labour’s plans to drive down NHS waiting times are ambitious, but achieving this will be an extremely tall order, particularly given that they appear to rely on asking already exhausted staff to work overtime. Other measures to improve early diagnosis and treatment, expand access to general practice and deliver more NHS care in communities are welcome, but the elephant in the room is how these improvements will be funded. Delivering these improvements will require significantly more investment than has been set out so far.’



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

So the bird flew away 13 June, 2024 12:14 pm

More wishful thinking that rebranding and repackaging is what’s needed. Plus further fragmenting followed by privatising and corporatisation. There’s little change from what the Tories have been doing for the last 14 years. Tony Blair Institute must be behind this thinking. Maybe Tony’s mates in Big Business Corps will horizontally diversify into pharmacy and healthcare – it’s all good easy money, boys! Like taking candy from a baby!
Government in the UK has been debased over the last 30 odd years from governing for the people to governing for Big Business’s interests and transferring public money into private pockets to secure future board positions for when select MPs and Cabinet members get turfed out by the electorate.
On the NHS, Labour need to follow the lead set by the Greens…traditional general practice isn’t broke so doesn’t need fixing, it just needs a transfusion of real funding

Shaun Meehan 13 June, 2024 12:52 pm

New doctors do not want to be partners so we must change our model of primary care. We can either try and shape that ahead or wish for the past. My 85 year old mother has to queue outside a surgery at 7.30am to get seen at all by anyone never mind a GP. That is the reality for those in the less leafy and poorer areas with the greatest need. I do know that when Labour were in government my patients had better NHS care so we should work with them so primary care gets an extra piece of the cake to improve things. If that means Neighbourhood centres in areas that have poor health outcomes we must grab that resource and GPs be decision makers in their running.

Some Bloke 13 June, 2024 1:08 pm

wow! you don’t say…‘neighbourhood health centres’ which would have GPs and other community health staff ‘under one roof’. do you mean- GP Practices?

Dylan Summers 13 June, 2024 1:43 pm

A quick internet search shows that the first UK health centre combining general practice and community services opened in 1952. So not exactly a revolutionary policy?

Kosta MANIS 13 June, 2024 1:43 pm

Hi Sofia,
NHSE states “Primary care includes general practice, community pharmacy, dental, and optometry (eye health) services.”
Is Dentistry mentioned in the manifesto?

Ghost of Victor Meldrew 13 June, 2024 2:24 pm

Plus ca change. How can these neighbourhood centres exist when there is no funding for new premises and current premises are severely restrained? I had hoped for better from Labour. What we need is sufficient funding to run a GP led primary care service free of Govt interference. It used to work and could again.

Michael Mullineux 13 June, 2024 3:26 pm

Just what we needed, a cunning plan ..

Liquorice Root- Bitter and Twisted. 13 June, 2024 5:24 pm

‘Reform ‘ – there’s that word again.
Nothing new here .
Likely another attempt to get more out without putting anything in.

Simon Jones 13 June, 2024 5:40 pm

We already have community nurses housed in our practice. Also we have a physio, counsellors, a midwife, and a full-time pharmacist along with providing space for an ultrasound session one day per week. Essentially their idea is not a lot different to how general practice has been evolving over the last 2 decades. Has the Labour party heard of AARS? Despite all these other people operating out of our building we are working harder than ever!

Robert James Andrew Mackenzie Koefman 13 June, 2024 6:28 pm

For those old enough to remember we had this many years ago . Let’s reinvent the wheel soon back to health authorities then Pcgs etc . Nothing new here we already do everything else . Hopefully public realise nothing new here !

Marilyn Monroe 13 June, 2024 8:21 pm

Our soon to be new prime-minister is a character from Wallace and Gromit

David Church 13 June, 2024 8:36 pm

Still they are not listening, and obviously do not visit real NHS-type GP surgeries, only private ones !

Waseem Jerjes 13 June, 2024 10:33 pm

Labour’s manifesto talks a big game about fixing primary care by bundling services in “neighbourhood health centres,” but it’s full of empty promises. No new money for general practice, vague ideas about getting more appointments, and relying on overworked staff to hit ambitious targets. The plan to fund all this by tackling tax avoidance sounds nice but feels like wishful thinking. It lacks real details on how they’ll pay for everything or what happens to the current GP system, making the whole thing seem more like political posturing than a solid strategy.

neo 99 14 June, 2024 10:42 am

Might as well be friendly neighbourhood spidermen! What a load of rubbish.

Helen Shires 14 June, 2024 4:16 pm

We already do have community services such as physio in many GP surgeries. And Pharmacy First has recently been introduced, with community pharmacists able to prescribe for 7 minor illnesses – what do they intend pharmacists to be able to prescribe in addition / how will this work safely with access to records and full medical history? Does anyone know what Lib Dems have proposed for primary care, or are they keeping quiet on the subject?