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.
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.