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PM promises more than 50m extra GP appointments under Covid recovery plan

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The Prime Minister has said that the new pandemic recovery plan will deliver more than the 50 million extra GP appointments already pledged by the Government.

In 2019, former health secretary Matt Hancock announced a pledge to recruit 6,000 new doctors to general practice and create 50 million more GP appointments a year by 2024/25.

However, the independent pay review body recently warned that the GP workforce remains ‘stagnant’ despite rising training numbers.

Announcing the Government’s new recovery plan at a press conference yesterday, Boris Johnson reiterated the Conservative party pledge but said that he plans to go even ‘further’.

He said: ‘We all know someone whose test, scan or hip replacement was delayed or who helped to protect the NHS amid the immense pressures of Covid by putting off treatment for a new medical condition.

‘And now, as people come forward again, we need to pay for those missed operations and treatments; we need to pay good wages for the 50,000 extra nurses we are recruiting, we need to go beyond the record funding we’ve already provided to the NHS, and that means going further than the 48 hospitals and 50 million more GP appointments.’

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons today, Mr Johnson added that he wants ‘GPs to be seeing the right people at the right time’ and to ‘fix the waiting list’ with the new measures.

Meanwhile, the vaccines minister told MPs on Monday that GPs ‘need to do more than just the vaccination programme, the booster programme and the flu vaccination programme’.

Nadhim Zahawi was responding to an MP question on making ‘full use’ of pharmacies and vaccination hubs for the Covid booster programme and ‘if possible’ flu jabs and asthma checks to ‘ensure that we do not lose any GP appointment time over these much-welcomed boosters’.

He said: ‘My honourable friend is quite right to say that GPs need to do more than just the vaccination programme, the booster programme and the flu vaccination programme. 

‘We also have to recognise that they do an incredible job in protecting the most vulnerable from flu, and that they were the backbone of the Covid vaccination programme.’

The Government is ‘continuing to work with’ primary care networks but has also ‘enhanced the pharmacy offer’, with more details to follow when the booster programme begins, he added.

Mr Zahawi also told MPs at the same debate that issues with flu jab deliveries will not cause a delay to the overall flu vaccination programme ‘at all’.

The Government announced its Covid recovery plan yesterday, which will be funded by a 1.25% rise in National Insurance contributions from next April.

It said the levy would raise almost £36bn for frontline services in the next three years, to go towards tackling the NHS backlog and paying for the social care system.

Last month, the BMA accused the Government of being ‘disingenuous’ over its publication of the latest official GP workforce figures, which showed the workforce had allegedly increased over the last 12 months.

Figures published in May had shown a slight (0.4%) increase in fully qualified GPs at 28,096 – 111 more than in March 2020, with the BMA warning the GP workforce is not growing quickly enough to cope with current or future demand

A major study last month showed that GP retention is in long-term decline, while Pulse revealed that GP vacancy rates remain high, with one in seven posts unfilled.

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Paul Attwood 8 September, 2021 5:26 pm

PM promises? Yup they’re a banker no doubt. Never breaks his word. Oh wait…….

A chain is as strong as its weakest link and that weakest link is the shortage of GPs.

Money on its own won’t solve that one.

Michael Mullineux 8 September, 2021 5:50 pm

Even if 50 mil more apointments were available, they would all be filled. In the blink of an eye. With the progressive infantilisation of our patients and fostering of dependency without responsibilty/self help/self care, the demand is infinite.

Chris GP 8 September, 2021 7:14 pm

Gp’s need to do more than just the vaccination programme……wtf??? Like all I have been doing for the last few months is vaccinating people. I have done bugger all of that – and I am still sat here having had one drink all day – just finishing after 11 hours. UTTER TOTAL COMPLETE 100% TOSSER! They have not one single clue…not one

Turn out The Lights 8 September, 2021 7:16 pm

BS Boris and his bunch of shysters shart out more fabrications to sooth the mail reading bullies that have been complaining about GPS for the last decade or more.They complained pre COVID when we did face to face,they complain post COVID when we are doing what the government was advising us to do.The time comes when you have to tell petulant toddlers NO.The profession is on its knees they just don’t get it.From me it’s a no.The billion will not last long when they are asking surgical regs £500 to do a couple of hernias on a Saturday morning,with the support staff of course.BS Boris strikes again.

Dave Haddock 8 September, 2021 8:37 pm

Unfettered demand is insatiable, no matter how many appointments it will never be enough.

Decorum Est 9 September, 2021 1:11 am

But is B🥁llsh🍾t BORIS and his nefarious cronies not consistent?

David Jarvis 9 September, 2021 8:56 am

That is 1700 extra appointments per Dr. About 7 weeks extra full time GP work. Quart pint pot anyone.

Gill Bogle 9 September, 2021 11:50 am

It should be mandatory for every MP to spend one week in General Practice and another in hospital medicine repeated every two or three years – no exceptions. Then they might have a tiny idea of reality

terry sullivan 9 September, 2021 2:47 pm

johnson is the weakest link in UK–he ios totally unfit to be PM–or even an MP

terry sullivan 9 September, 2021 2:48 pm


Beaker . 9 September, 2021 8:03 pm

Hm so let’s says 46 weeks a yr, 4 days / week that’s 10 extra consults a day per current FTE in England. Not going to happen

Andrew Jackson 9 September, 2021 9:12 pm

AI will do 10 and the target of 6000 extra GPs will mean the 2 FTE recruited will do the rest between them

Patrufini Duffy 9 September, 2021 10:30 pm

You try increase by 50m, and burnout means we’ll just reduce by 8Om.

Marie Williams 10 September, 2021 6:05 pm

Thanks Boris I’m so pleased you are supporting primary care!
Will these extra 50m appointments be provided by actual primary care professionals or just another layer of uselessness saying ” You need to see your GP within 3 hrs “?

Anyway looking forward to working with these additional health care professionals who will provide the 50m GP consultations . Will they arrive on dragons or do they have their own unicorns?

HM government and by default NHSE have so belittled our profession that they believe our boots can be filled by inexperienced barely trained ARRS staff.

Kevlar Cardie 14 September, 2021 5:52 pm

Sigh. I just wish Stanley Johnson had pulled out as fast as Boris did from Kabul.