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Labour would go further than two-week waits for GP appointments

Labour would go further than two-week waits for GP appointments

Patients ‘deserve better than a two-week wait’ for GP appointments, and a Labour Government would have ‘higher standards’, the shadow health secretary has said.

Wes Streeting pledged a Labour Government would ‘make the NHS fit for the future’ and fix the problem of people being ‘unable to see their GP’.

It would also be up to patients whether GP appointments were face to face or remote and whether they see the same GP for every appointment, and patients would be able to self-refer to more secondary care services, he said in a speech to the Labour party conference today.

He would champion ‘higher standards for patients’ and give them ‘a voice as well as choice’ as a Labour Government health secretary.

Mr Streeting told the conference: ‘Patients deserve better than a two-week wait to see a GP. I have higher standards for patients.

‘When we were in Government, Labour guaranteed appointments within two days.’

He added that a new Labour Government ‘will give all patients the ability to book online, the opportunity to self-refer to specialist services where appropriate and a wider range of choice so that we can choose whether we want to see someone face-to-face, on the phone or via a video link’.

He said: ‘The days of waiting on the phone at 8am to book an appointment with your GP will be over and we will bring back the family doctor.’

The Labour party said this includes giving patients the ‘choice’ of ‘seeing the same doctor each appointment for those who want to’.

It comes as health secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey’s new plan for patient access last week 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.

Responding to Dr Coffey’s announcement, Mr Streeting questioned ‘who will deliver these appointments she’s promising’ and where these GP appointments will take place.

Meanwhile, NHS England this 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.

The BMA said Mr Streeting’s GP appointment promises are ‘divisive’ and ‘disappointing’.

BMA England GP Committee chair Dr Farah Jameel said: ‘We simply don’t have enough doctors and while it’s good to see Labour recognising the workforce challenges, it’s disappointing to see politicians once again making divisive headline-grabbing promises that are not grounded in reality, and which suggest the existing workforce are somehow not trying hard enough.’

She urged politicians and policymakers to instead ‘discuss meaningful and workable solutions with the profession’.

She added: ‘They must stop playing around with patients’ lives and end divisive rhetoric that heaps more expectations on to doctors already working at their limits – and who will be left shouldering the blame when they are ultimately unable to achieve undeliverable promises.’

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘GP access is important but it is only a starting point to ensuring our patients receive the safe, personalised and appropriate care they need.

‘What we really need to address are the huge workload and workforce pressures that are the real reason why patients are facing such long waits to see a GP.’

The shadow health secretary also suggested that GP access is causing pressures in A&E – a claim that has been disputed.

He said: ‘We don’t focus nearly enough on prevention, early intervention and care in the community.

‘Because people can’t see a GP they end up in A&E, which is worse for them and more expensive for the taxpayer.’

He added: ‘The next Labour Government will agree a 10-year plan with the NHS to shift the focus of healthcare out of the hospital and into the community.

‘Our plan to recruit more doctors will deliver better access to GPs and ease pressure on A&Es.

This will be at the heart of Labour’s 10-year plan for change and modernisation.’

Mr Streeting has also pledged to double the number of medical school places if Labour were to come into power.



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

Truth Finder 28 September, 2022 2:12 pm

Where did Labour find this man off the streets? Absolutely clueless. There is no staff. Just when you thought the current one cannot be worse.

Patrufini Duffy 28 September, 2022 3:28 pm

Next Gynae appointment on Ers is April 2023.
That’s all good. Keep it backed up.
Politicians dare not let patient’s just refer themselves for e.g. 2ww but hack on about access. Because they actually want you to fob them off, and take the hit, for cheap free advice basically and keep the nannying on your doorstep?
Old plan. Watch referrals go through your roof.

Wendy Kitching 28 September, 2022 3:41 pm

Primary care appointments are taken up with patients who are awaiting secondary care treatment and who are getting worse and becoming desperate with worsening mental health as well as physical health . In addition appointments are taken up with people who have been ‘seen’ in secondary care – usually a phonecall , and have come away confused and dissatisfied because their problem has not been addressed . Then there’s those who have attended A and E appropriately for their chest pain or suspected sepsis but they have been discharged with incomplete investigations with the request ‘ GP to review’ or ‘GP to repeat blood test’
We see all of these in addition to as many ‘appropriate for primary care’ patients as we can fit into a working day but there is inevitably some who cannot be fitted in and yes they decide to attend A and E .
My point being the whole system is saturated and over capacity and patients will continue to be seen in the ‘wrong’ place until we have more staff throughout the NHS and social care .

Turn out The Lights 28 September, 2022 3:52 pm

More of the same from the other Chuckle brother in the red suit.You to me me to you add infinitum.The political system as as f@@kec as the health and social care system.They don’t want to address real issues of the work force crisis as that will really cost.There is an international shortage of health care workers and the Chuckle brother in blue has just devalued the pound.Dystopian times.

Nick Mann 28 September, 2022 3:54 pm

“He added: ‘The next Labour Government will agree a 10-year plan with the NHS to shift the focus of healthcare out of the hospital and into the community.”
…said Thatcher in 1982. Now look at what has become of Mental Health care.

Wes Streeting needs to realise that ‘taking healthcare out of Hospitals’ was only ever a specious excuse to cut > 60% of all Hospital beds since 1987. Half of our problems right now are directly due to a lack of Hospital capacity, beds and staff.

Global Health proponents (private health lobbyists) continue to peddle two dangerous myths:
1. We don’t need Hospitals: we need KPMG Hospital at Home instead. It’s simply not true, less safe and would prove far more expensive to maintain.
2. Prevention is the answer. By ‘prevention’, they mean de facto screening of healthy populations. Prevention, as we should know, is essentially a governmental responsibility with its purview in Public Health policy.
Same word, different meaning.

Fedup GP 28 September, 2022 4:19 pm

yeah……thought about it….still retiring early.

Keith M Laycock 28 September, 2022 4:23 pm

“You couldn’t make this stuff up” ….. well it seems they can and do.

From the realms of literature, ‘Magical Realism’.


Turn out The Lights 28 September, 2022 4:27 pm

KML you forgot the locks on the end.I am still retiring early as well.The checkouts at Asda are beckoning.

Patrufini Duffy 28 September, 2022 5:18 pm

Go for it.
Low morale and cheap medicine, is proportional to me pressing the refer button same day.
No cost saving required.
Take that.

Imogen Bloor 28 September, 2022 6:07 pm

Very disappointing response from Labour- ‘When we were in Government, Labour guaranteed appointments within two days.’
Hmmm, as I recall this was a perhaps well intentioned but misguided policy that adversely affected access , and contributed to creating unrealistic patient expectation ( patient demand vs needs led ). Prior to that policy we had urgent same day appointments for urgent things (as defined by the patient- so there was inherent flexibility & the expectation of patient responsibility there) , and pre-bookable appointments for more ‘routine’ issues .. there are many things that both Drs AND patients agree can reasonably wait a week or two, and it allows people ( especially those who work) to plan & book appointments at a time convenient to them, rather than the lottery of having to try and get through on a busy phone line, and waiting for a call back at work- when many at work are not permitted to take calls or literally unable to take calls depending on the nature of their work. .
Patient led self-referral to certain specialities has worked well in some areas ( eg: Maternity Services & MSK physio) but is clearly inappropriate in many specialties and as others have commented, is likely to drive up referral rates and costs…

Mike Pearce 28 September, 2022 6:36 pm

Does anyone have his mobile number? He sounds hilarious and would be great value at a dinner party.

David Church 28 September, 2022 8:51 pm

I was thinking along the lines of , well, if a patient can at any time decide they want to see their own GP within 2 weeks, that means GPs can never take 2 weeks off at once for a fortnight holidat with family (or indeed if they get sick and are still LFD-positive on day 11!)
So Labour’s plan to cut the length of GP holiday maxima to 1 week was over-bullying of GPs;
But then I realised that I don’t actually have any patients of my own any more – and neither should any other GP :- since the changes of a few years ago reallocated all the patients to “Dr Poo” – the 6-letter abbreviation for “Pooled List”, so I can have a fortnight holiday after all, but Dr Poo cannot.
OK then!

Christopher Ho 29 September, 2022 9:53 am

“Truth Finder28 September, 2022 2:12 pm
Where did Labour find this man off the streets?”

With their open border policy (as well as the Tories of course), he must have come over on those boats across the Channel just filled with doctors and lawyers and scientists that we keep hearing about.

David Jenner 29 September, 2022 10:26 am

Wes , at least Labour are offering more funding for the NHS but politely suggest you come and meet some of us so you understand the issues and don’t overpromise and then underdeliver if elected to government .

Patrufini Duffy 29 September, 2022 8:04 pm

13 days. Unlucky.