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Conservatives pledge to ‘build 100 new GP surgeries’ if they win general election

Conservatives pledge to ‘build 100 new GP surgeries’ if they win general election

The Conservative Party has announced a pledge to build 100 new GP surgeries and ‘modernise’ a further 150, should they win the upcoming general election.

The Tories said they would also expand Pharmacy First to ‘free up a total 20 million GP appointments’ and build 50 new Community Diagnostic Centres.

The plans would be backed by £1bn a year by 2029/30, funded by slashing the number of NHS managers and ‘halving spend on consultants in the public sector’.

But GP leaders vigorously attacked the plans, saying the party has underfunded general practice for over a decade, leading to the current situation of practice decline and closures.

As Pulse has reported, nearly 60 GP practices across the UK closed their doors in 2022 alone, with a sharp rise and fall in the number of practice closures over the last decade, increasing from 11 in 2013 to a peak of 163 in 2018.

Pulse’s major investigation found that at least 474 surgeries across the UK have folded with no replacement, and looked at why this happened, identifying the triggers of full practice closures, with staffing being the most common by a distance (some 42% of all closures).

It also found that deprived practices face greater pressures that force them to close more than practices in affluent areas.

On social media platform X, health secretary Victoria Atkins said the Tory plans mark ‘a significant shift to bringing care closer to home’.

She said: ‘This is a fully funded plan backed by cutting the number of managers in the NHS and halving spend on consultants in the public sector.

‘Pharmacists, GPs and Community Diagnostic Centres are the backbone of our NHS. This plan will enable them to focus on what they do best: serving their local community.

‘We hit our 2019 manifesto target to create 50 million additional GP appointments and have built 160 CDCs already. This plan will go even further and will help make our NHS faster, simpler and fairer.’

But RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said a lack of investment in GP premises and staff had led to the current situation.

‘Too many GPs’ are working in ‘mouldy rooms’ with leaking roofs, without enough space to deliver the care their community needs, she said, adding that more investment is needed to recruit and retain GPs.

She said: ‘The average number of patients per fully qualified GP is now 2,294, meaning each GP is, on average, responsible for 154 more patients than there were five years ago.

‘We are delivering millions more appointments than we were five years ago, with 880 fewer fully qualified, full time equivalent GPs, but we can’t keep doing more with less.

‘The only solution to the current crisis in general practice is more GPs – no other healthcare professional can do the complex clinical and leadership work that GPs do.

‘We need all the political parties to commit to significant investment and further efforts to increase the GP workforce – to ensure that there are enough GPs to deliver safe timely and appropriate care. Parties need to listen to GPs and patients, and prioritise the future of general practice.’

Also on X, DAUK spokesperson Dr Steve Taylor, a GP in Manchester, said the Conservatives ‘have failed general practice for the past 14 years’.

He said: ‘It’s harder to see a GP in every constituency in England, [the Conservatives] have cut GP funding by 20% £/patient in the last eight years alone. They don’t care about patients or GP access.’

And he told Pulse: ‘Given the decline in provision for GP Practices over the past 14 years and particularly the past eight years, it’s surprising that the Conservatives are suggesting some support for new practices. Over 300 practices have closed, GPs are unemployed, leaving and some practices are handing back contracts.’ 

The plans in full

  • Expand Pharmacy First to ‘free up an additional 10 million GP appointments’ – 20 million in total – to cover more conditions, such as acne and chest infections; offer contraceptive patches and injections, in addition to the oral contraception already available; and provide menopause support, including HRT
  • Invest in 250 ‘new and modernised’ GP practices. The funding will be used to ‘modernise and upgrade’ 150 GP practices and to build 100 brand new GP surgeries, located in the ‘areas of greatest need’, and particularly in areas of new housing growth
  • Overhaul planning guidance to ‘ensure health gets a bigger share’ of developer contributions from new housing developments
  • Build 50 new Community Diagnostic Centres, delivering ‘2.5m more checks every year’
  • Pay for this additional expenditure by: cutting back the number of NHS managers to pre-pandemic levels – by 5,500, ‘saving £550 million each year’ by 2029-30; and by introducing new controls on management consultancy spend in government, ‘saving £640 million each year by 2029-30’ 

Source: Conservative Party

In its response to the plans, Labour quoted Pulse’s investigation into practice closures, and said that the ‘Conservatives are promising to build 250 GP surgeries, however 450 have closed since 2013’.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘The Conservatives have broken their manifesto promise to recruit more GPs, instead cutting 1,700 since 2016 and closing down more than 450 GP practices.

‘Patients are finding it harder than ever before to see a GP, so why would they trust this latest empty promise? The doctor can’t see you now, and it will only get worse if the Tories are given another five years.

‘Labour will train thousands more GPs and cut the red tape that ties up GPs time, so we can bring back the family doctor.’

Last week, Labour Party pledged to eradicate elective waits over 18 weeks within five years, if they are elected on 4 July.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have said they would increase the number of GPs by 8,000.



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

Sal Kal 3 June, 2024 12:48 pm

What a plan . Years of smashing and bashing General practice with Austerity and all multiple surgeries etc was not enough. Replacing GPs by Noctors to extent even in statements for General Practice pharmacist come first. The good news may that ARRA will run new surgeries

Centreground Centreground 3 June, 2024 1:16 pm

In reference to pharmacists as mentioned above , is there a way of overcoming the maximum issue of 1 or 2 prescriptions implemented after a pharmacist has done a review on some occasions so in effect we have to amend and adjust every single of the 20 medications in some cases and which takes as long as long as the original medication review so indirectly we then take ownership and responsibility for the original SMR?

Marilyn Monroe 3 June, 2024 1:45 pm

“ Pharmacists, GPs and Community Diagnostic Centres are the backbone of our NHS” ..these people have literally NO IDEA what primary care is or what a GP does. Astonishingly ignorant/incompetent and clueless. Thank god there is zero possibility these people will be running things in August. I cant say Labour have any idea either..but they aren’t these idiots, being any worse on the NHS than the current conservative party would be difficult to imagine

Auld Muileach 3 June, 2024 3:16 pm

Along with the 40 new hospitals they promised last time?

So the bird flew away 3 June, 2024 4:17 pm

Conservatives who?

David Church 3 June, 2024 5:05 pm

Whilst I would agree with cutting NHS management positions to fund real services instead, I can’t see that patients would benefit from the existence of 100 new surgeries with no GPs in them, just empty shells to ‘go to the surgery’ instead of ‘seeing the GP’.
I suppose cardboard cut-out GPs could satisfy the need of some to ‘see a GP’ but others actually need real staff, not empty buildings on top of empty promisses.

Andrew Jackson 3 June, 2024 5:29 pm

There will only be 99 GPs left so they are building too many new buildings.

Dr No 3 June, 2024 9:01 pm

This. Just when I thought my contempt for the Tories could not deepen. Why now you bastards? Even if these plans were realistic or sensible, why now? Oh yes, a GE, how stupid of me.

David Banner 3 June, 2024 10:44 pm

One of the joys of preparing for Opposition is writing cheques you know you’ll never have to cash.

Dr No 3 June, 2024 11:05 pm

@DB so it’s just more lies and bullshit and we are supposed to understand that it’s just “electioneering”. Well I take everything they say at face value. Maybe it’s the ASD in me but I cut them no slack. Take them at their word. Nasty, hateful, divisive, far-right, child-hating (Jenrick) racist (x2 Home Secretaries) bastards. I hope they rot in hell.

Michael Mullineux 4 June, 2024 11:50 am

Really only worthy of a two fingered salute

Dr No 4 June, 2024 10:22 pm

Agreed, but why use two fingers when one will do?