PATIENTS can expect to get a routine GP appointment within a fortnight as part of sweeping plans to improve access.
Thérèse Coffey is also committed to ensuring that urgent cases – such as sick children and lung infections – are seen on the same day.
GPs who don’t deliver will be named and shamed, with a practice wait times league table published monthly.
In her first major speech, the new health secretary will promise to keep a “laser-like focus on patient needs”.
The Sun revealed yesterday that ministers wanted to end the ‘8am rush’ for GP appointments – a major source of frustration for many.
Dr Coffey will aim to make it easier for sick Britons to see a family doctor by freeing up millions more slots, with the help of additional support staff and pharmacists.
GP phone systems will also be upgraded so people don’t have to call back repeatedly when lines are busy.
For the first time ever, all patients will be expected to be seen within two weeks of contact with their practice, and seriously ill people within hours.
The Health Sec will present details of its ‘Our plan for patients’ plan to the Commons today, focusing on ‘ABCD’ – ambulances, backlog, care and doctors and dentists.
Dr Coffey 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 plan for patients will make it easier to get a GP appointment and we will work hard to make this happen, while supporting our hard-working GP teams.”
Pharmacies will help free up GPs by dispensing more drugs – like contraception – without a doctor’s prescription.
And Dr Coffey will call on the one million volunteers who have stepped up during the pandemic to help the NHS again, supporting the roll-out of the fall booster and other key initiatives.
There are around 26 million GP visits a month in England alone.
Of these, just under half are same day, while 85% of patients are seen within two weeks of contact with their practice.
NHS boss Amanda Pritchard 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 patient needs and new technology to make it easier to connect with your local practice.
It comes as public health expert Professor Azeem Majeed, from Imperial College London, has warned that the NHS is facing one of its toughest winters yet – and needs to increase beds and abandon bureaucracy to cope.
He said, “On a scale of one to ten [with ten being bad]it’s a ten rather than a one.