The Government is focusing on improving access to general practice, it has said, in response to an MP’s question regarding abuse of GP staff.
Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney (Lib Dem) used this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions to raise how local GP practice staff have been struggling and ‘left in tears’ in Surrey.
She pointed out how local media coverage showed that practices are struggling to care for patients due to unmanageable workload and abuse.
Ms Olney said: ‘In a shocking article in SurreyLive, it was reported that staff at a GP practice in Walton were left in tears and crumbling under pressure, due to the increased workload caused by staff shortages.
‘Is it any wonder, when there are 850 fewer GPs across the country since 2019 – so what does the deputy Prime Minister say to those patients left in pain and staff left in tears, including in his own constituency, due to this Government’s failed promise to recruit more GPs?’
Esher and Walton MP Dominic Raab, who was deputising for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he was attending the funeral of former Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd, said that the Government is focusing on improving access and technology in general practice.
He said: ‘Any abuse, against any GPs, in any practice across the country is absolutely wrong – we have to have zero tolerance of it.
‘What I would say is that we have seen a large increase in GP appointments, over 29 million carried out since the start of the year.
‘We are improving access to general practice, with more support staff, and also the technology, so more state-of-the-art telephone systems.
‘The number of GPs in training is at record levels, and we are investing 1.5bn to create 50 million more appointments a year by 2024.’
At the beginning of the month, NHS England imposed a contract on GPs to start from 1 April, which includes more stipulations around access, but no extra funding.
Under the new contract, GP practices will have to offer patients an ‘assessment of need’ on first contact and will ‘no longer be able to request that patients contact the practice at a later time’.
Earlier this week, the BMA urged the Government to ‘listen’ as the public’s satisfaction with GP services has dropped to its lowest-ever level.