Government promises patients will get a GP appointment within two weeks


Patients will be able to access appointments with the general practitioner within two weeks and those with the most urgent needs during the day, promises the new secretary for health and care, Thérèse Coffey.

Ms Coffey’s first policy announcements in her new role will take place on Thursday and will include plans to create an additional 1million GP appointments a year.

The public will also be asked to ‘do their part’ in supporting services and volunteering for the NHS. The government hopes to recapture the spirit seen during the pandemic, when more than a million people signed up to lend their support.

In a bid to improve access to GPs, the Health Secretary will indicate previously announced funding for practices to hire additional support staff.

These staff will include assistants, advanced nurse practitioners and primary care roles, such as pharmacists, mental health practitioners and associate nurses.

Responding to the announcement, Professor Martin Marshall, President of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘It’s a shame the Health Secretary hasn’t spoken to the college and our frontline members before making her announcement because we could have informed him of what is really needed to ensure a GP service that meets patients’ needs and is ready for the future.

“Weighing down a struggling service with more expectations, without a plan on how to deliver them, will only add to the intense workload and manpower pressures that GPs and our teams face. , while having minimal impact on the care our patients receive.”

He said about 85% of appointments already take place within two weeks.

Professor Marshall added: “GPs share the frustrations of patients when we cannot provide the care we want to provide in a timely manner. But we are caring for a growing number of patients, with more health needs. more complex, and carrying out more consultations each month than before the pandemic – but with fewer full-time equivalent qualified general practitioners than in 2015.”

National GP appointment data for July showed that 44% of the 26 million appointments took place on the same day.

This was the largest proportion, followed by 5 million appointments between two and seven days and 3 million appointments between eight days and two weeks.

Same-day appointments have consistently accounted for the largest proportion of appointments each month between 2021 and 2022.

In 2019, NHS England announced a program called the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), which aimed to recruit an additional 26,000 people into general practice.

Outlining the plan, the Health Secretary said new telephone systems will be implemented in GP surgeries, although it is unclear what the systems will include.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, Therese Coffey is also expected to expand on her previously outlined priorities.

Saturday The Independent reported that the health secretary’s speech could include policies such as more ambulance call handlers, more community diagnostic centers, accelerating the hospital construction program, reducing “bureaucratic burdening general practitioners, improving direct access to advisory services for patients and a “robust” management of the national contract for dentists.

The Health Secretary is expected to say: ‘I will focus on the needs of patients, making their priorities my priorities and being a champion for them on the issues that affect them most.

“Our [new plan] will make it easier to get a GP appointment and we will work hard to make it happen, while supporting our hard-working GP teams.

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of the NHS, said: “I know how much patients value quick and convenient access to GPs and primary care, the gateway to the NHS, which is why we continue to bring enhancements, including new roles to better meet patients’ and new technologies to make it easier to connect with your local practice.

“NHS staff are working incredibly hard to deliver a record number of GP appointments to patients, with 11 million more this year so far than the same time last year, and more than four in five people who need an appointment within two weeks, including more than two-fifths in one day.

“We will work with the government so that we can support NHS staff to achieve these new ambitions for patients, underpinned by the development of a long-term workforce plan.”


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