A Labour government will begin planning immediately to put a GP in all A&Es to stave off a potential crisis next winter, its leader Ed Miliband announced today.
Outlining Labour’s ‘NHS rescue policy’ in a speech at Manchester Metropolitan University today, Mr Miliband pledged his party to ‘begin immediate planning’ for winter pressures if it comes to power.
The Labour leader has previously called for GPs to be stationed in A&E but today’s announcement commits the party to introducing the scheme within six months of securing election.
He said: ‘We are… going to begin immediate planning to avoid an A&E crisis for the coming winter. Improving GP access and ensuring there are GPs in all A&Es. Increasing the numbers of clinically trained NHS staff on the 111 phoneline.’
This would be partly achieved through the 8,000 new doctors promised by the Labour party, which will be possible through ‘saving resources on privatisation and bureaucracy’, he said.
Mr Miliband also said that Labour would begin increasing funding for the NHS immediately.
He said: ‘Today I can announce in our first 100 days, our first Budget, our first year in office, we’ll begin to bring in funds from the Mansion Tax and tobacco levy. And we will use that money to support the NHS with our immediate Rescue Plan.’
But GPC representative Dr Peter Holden, who lead on urgent care in more than 15 years on the negotiating team, told Pulse politicians were failing to recognise A&E pressures stemmed from problems discharging patients into care and inappropriate demand.
Dr Holden said: ‘It’s [GPs in A&Es] just going to fill in the concept that you can go anywhere you like, any way you like, any time you like for a routine matter, any time of the day or night. We can’t deliver that.
‘So he’s missing the point, A&E’s crisis is it’s got nowhere to discharge patients to – patients aren’t just arriving because they can’t get a GP appointment.’
He added that emergency medicine consultants who he has worked with ‘admit we [GPs] are flat out, but also they admit their problem is inappropriate attendance by people who will not accept we do not have 24/7, routine healthcare availability. And that is something that politicians keep stoking up.
‘Basically, all these pleas for more GPs – where are we going to get them from? When you consider our local GP training scheme, out of 30 places, four have filled. It’s pie in the sky, and it’s time the politicians shut up and listened to those who deliver care.’
The commitment for a GP in every A&E comes as Pulse has revealed the extend of the crisis in GP recruitment; with one third of GP training places unfilled after this year’s first intake round, and a third of current GPs saying they intend to retire in five years.
Today’s commitment is in addition to Mr Miliband’s pledge to bolster access to general practice through reintroducing the 48 hour appointment target and recruiting an additional 8,000 GPs over the course of the next parliament in the hope this will relieve pressure on secondary care.