The Government has admitted it does not have any figures on how many patients go to A&E because they cannot see a GP, despite No 10’s claim that the crisis in the NHS is down to GPs not working hard enough.
David Mowat, minister for primary care, revealed the gap in evidence in response to a written question from shadow health minister Justin Madders.
Mr Mowat said: ‘The proportion of patients who have attended accident and emergency departments because they have been unable to get a timely appointment with their general practitioner is not held centrally.’
Despite this, he added that the Government was ‘committed to improving access to GPs services’ and that ‘by 2020 everyone will be able to access routine GP appointments at evenings and weekends’ – claiming that ‘17 million patients have already benefited from extended access to GP appointments at evenings and weekends through the GP Access Fund’.
Mr Madders tweeted the response to his question:
The Gov have no figures on the number of patients going to a&e because they can’t see a GP https://t.co/XG6fB6vxqP
— Justin Madders MP (@justinmadders) January 18, 2017
It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May provoked the ire of the profession by ordering GPs to open their doors seven days a week, telling national newspapers that practices were blame for the crisis because they were not opening during evenings and weekends.
Tory MP and health committee chair Dr Sarah Wollaston said the Prime Minister ’should apologise’ to GPs for her comments and the BMA has criticised the Government for scapegoating GPs over the crisis.
Yesterday Pulse revealed that over a quarter of GPs are working unsafe hours because of their heavy workloads.