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General practice ‘will do well’ under Labour, Wes Streeting promises

General practice ‘will do well’ under Labour, Wes Streeting promises

General practice ‘has a lot to look forward to’ should Labour win the upcoming general election, the shadow health secretary has said.

Wes Streeting was speaking at an event organised by the Medical Journalists Association in London yesterday evening, when he said that general practice ‘will do well’ under a Labour government.

He also said that primary care’s proportion of the NHS budget ‘ought to increase’ as this would result in better care for patients and ‘better value for taxpayers’.

However, Labour’s manifesto published last week carried no promises of increased investment in general practice.

Pulse asked whether Mr Streeting was worried about GPs taking part in collective action, following a ballot of GP partners opened by the BMA yesterday, but he did not answer the question directly.

He said: ‘I actually think that general practice specifically and primary care more generally will do well, under a Labour government.

‘We think it’s of vital importance to the future of the NHS that we fix the front door for the NHS in primary care.

‘We think that primary care’s proportion of the NHS budget ought to increase, we think that would be better for patients and also better value for taxpayers – if someone can see a GP, costing about £40, that’s potentially saved an A&E attendance, which could cost 10 times that.

‘If people are able to have a relationship with their GP, and build that continuity of care, that’s really important and better for patients. And also secondary prevention, getting there earlier, diagnosing and treating faster and more appropriately, which is often not just better for patients, but actually saves a hell of a lot of money.

‘So I think that primary care generally, general practice specifically has a lot to look forward to if there is a Labour government after the next general election.’

In his speech, Mr Streeting referred to Labour plans to add a function to the NHS app so patients can view GP performance and switch to the top provider.

When the plans were first hinted at, GP leaders told Pulse that they were unlikely to work because ‘all practices are overwhelmed’ so patients will encounter the same problems even if they move.

Mr Streeting said: ‘We will also give power to the patient, all patients. When you receive a diagnosis, you’ll be told what care to expect and by when you will be able to see which GP practices near your provide the best care for your condition, so you can choose to change your GP if you want to.

‘Where safe, you’ll be able to refer yourself director specialists, so you don’t have to wait a month for a pointless GP appointment before getting the care you need.’

Mr Streeting also said that Labour will reform the NHS ‘to get out more for what we put in’ and that ‘pouring more money’ into a ‘broken system’ would be ‘a waste’.

Labour’s manifesto had pledged to ‘return the family doctor’ and trial ‘neighbourhood health centres’, that would bring together ‘existing services’ such as ‘family doctors, district nurses, care workers, physiotherapists, palliative care, and mental health specialists under one roof’.

Last night, Mr Streeting said: ‘It’s a 20th century health service that has failed to change with the times; a hospital based service when patients want to be able to see their GP, and stay in their own home; a sickness service that doesn’t do enough to keep people well; an analogue service where we live in a digital world.

‘Simply pouring more money into a broken system would be wasteful in every sense: a waste of time that is running out, a waste of money we don’t have and a waste of potential because the NHS has so much going for it.’

He also criticised the Conservatives’ pledge to build 100 new GP surgeries and ‘modernise’ a further 150, saying there are ‘so many unanswered questions’ around their plans.

‘All they announced was a plan to sack 5,500 managers and restore just half of the GP practices they’ve closed since 2013,’ he added.

‘Who is going to work in these new GP practices when almost 2,000 GPs have been cut since 2015?’

The shadow health secretary had already indicated last year that the Labour Party may give general practice a larger percentage of NHS funding.

However, 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.

Photo credit: Sam Mellish



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

Waseem Jerjes 18 June, 2024 7:01 pm

I was having a bad day and read this and laughed… thank you! Funny how politicians say one thing but their manifestos say another. Both parties are disastrous for general practice. Typical political lines for elections, no more, no less.

David Church 18 June, 2024 9:23 pm

So, when you can change Surgery to the one that scores best for you condition, what if you have more than one condition? – or what if your condition is ‘Life in General, requiring holistic primary care’ ?
Perhaps GPC should consider a contract clause saying that patients can only move GPs once per year?

win win 18 June, 2024 9:43 pm

There should be no doubt that Labour has no clue. Migrate if you can ASAP.

Some Bloke 19 June, 2024 6:53 am

Soundbites, no substance, not answering questions directly- Wes has achieved his PDP to become a worthy Labour front bencher.
Their manifesto can be summed up this: don’t expect anything.

Nicola Williams 20 June, 2024 1:00 pm

patients to self refer to specialists so they ” don’t have to wait a month for a pointless GP appointment”
speaks volumes about his opinion of GPs