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Tory manifesto: Confusion as party appears to abolish weekends for GPs

The first line of the Conservative Party manifesto has made the extraordinary claim that it will deliver seven-days-a-week access to ‘your GP’, but a party spokesperson has denied that this is a departure in policy.

The first line of the manifesto – launched today amid much fanfare – pledges the party will ‘provide seven-day a week access to your GP and deliver a truly 7-day NHS’.

But a Conservative Party spokesperson explained to Pulse that the sentence did not mean all GPs should cancel their weekend plans.

She said the sentence was referring to two of their main policies detailed in more depth inside the manifesto: seven-day access to ‘a GP’ by 2020 and the extension of the named clinician scheme to all patients.

A spokesperson said: ‘The two are separate commitments and obviously this is not a guarantee that patients will be able to access their specific named GP seven days a week.’

When pressed by Pulse whether the wording was a mistake, the spokesperson merely said that the manifesto was meant to be read ‘in full’ and that it was made clear later on what the pledge meant.

But GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘GPs already deliver a 24/7 service. What would be crazy would be to move to a system of insisting a patient’s individual named GP was on call every hour of every day, which is the implication of promising that anyone will have access to “your GP”… Which patient would be foolhardy enough to want to see an exhausted GP who has worked all hours of the week? 

‘What we need is a focus on properly funding GP urgent care services, which have not seen funding increased for almost a decade despite the rapidly increasing workload.’

Prime Minister David Cameron launched his party’s manifesto today and revealed few further surprises for health, except to omit the party’s previous pledge for 5,000 more GPs by 2020 from the document. However that pledge was included in chancellor George Osborne’s announcement over the weekend that the party is pledging a real terms increase in spend on the NHS budget of of £8bn by 2020.

The manifesto further commits for the NHS to ‘stay free for you to use’, same-day appointments for over 75s, integration of health and social care via the Better Care Fund and to ‘lead the world’ in fighting cancer and finding a cure for dementia.

The announcement comes as the Green Party became the first to listen to calls from the RCGP and the BMA to raise the proportion of the NHS budget given to general practice to 11%.

The Conservative Party’s NHS policies:

  • continue to increase spending on the NHS, supported by a strong economy, so the NHS stays free for you to use
  • spend at least an additional £8bn by 2020 over and above inflation to fund and support the NHS’s own action plan for the next five years
  • ensure you can see a GP and receive the hospital care you need, seven days a week by 2020, with a guarantee that everyone over 75 will get a same-day appointment if they need one
  • integrate health and social care, through our Better Care Fund
  • lead the world in fighting cancer and finding a cure for dementia

Source: Conservative Party 2015 election manifesto