Tories pledge 50million extra appointments a year to end GP crisis

Tories promise to create 50MILLION extra GP appointments a year with £2.5bn spending spree to end crisis 

  • Health Secretary to announce £2.5billion funding to hire thousands of GPs
  • Matt Hancock said he sometimes struggled to get an appointment in the past
  • His party pledges to create an extra 50million GP surgery appointments a year  

The Tories will today pledge to create an extra 50million GP surgery appointments a year.

They want to end the crisis that leaves some patients waiting weeks to see a doctor.

In a major election pledge, Matt Hancock will announce £2.5billion funding to hire thousands of GPs, nurses and other staff.

The Health Secretary acknowledged rising public concern about the issue – and said he had sometimes struggled to get an appointment himself in the past. Mr Hancock also accused homeopaths who are peddling anti-vaccine messages to parents of ‘putting lives at risk’

In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Health Secretary acknowledged rising public concern about the issue – and said he had sometimes struggled to get an appointment himself in the past.

He said the new money would help increase by 15 per cent the number of GP surgery appointments available each year – which currently stands at 307million.

‘I know what it feels like when you need to see a GP and it’s hard to get an appointment and I want to fix that,’ he said. 

‘I want to see more GP appointments and also make sure that access is fair across the country.

The Tories will today pledge to create an extra 50million GP surgery appointments a year. They want to end the crisis that leaves some patients waiting weeks to see a doctor [File photo]

‘At the moment access is easier in some areas than others. There is a particular problem in rural areas and we are focusing on that – and that means getting GPs into the right places and making sure we are making the best use of technology.’

Mr Hancock also accused homeopaths who are peddling anti-vaccine messages to parents of ‘putting lives at risk’ by raising the chances of children catching measles if they are not given the MMR jab.

And he pledged to fund compensation for victims of the contaminated blood scandal if an inquiry recommended it.

The boost to GP appointments comes amid growing concern among the public about waiting times. 

Corbyn is ‘the biggest threat to NHS’

Jeremy Corbyn was branded ‘the biggest threat to the NHS’ last night, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Labour’s immigration plans would heap pressure on the service.

The Labour leader has tried to ‘weaponise’ the NHS during the early stages of the election campaign but, in an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Hancock warned that Mr Corbyn’s policies would bring ruin on the health service.

‘I want immigration that benefits our NHS,’ he said. 

Mr Hancock accused Mr Corbyn of scaremongering over the NHS and warned that Labour’s economic policies would make it impossible for him to fund the service 

‘Labour want unfettered immigration. Everyone worried about access to their GP should be aware that a policy of uncontrolled immigration will make it harder to get an appointment.’

Labour has yet to publish details of its immigration policy. But the party’s conference voted to ‘maintain and extend free movement’ in September.

Mr Hancock also accused Mr Corbyn of scaremongering over the NHS and warned that Labour’s economic policies would make it impossible for him to fund the service.

Meanwhile, ministers yesterday unveiled plans for a new ‘NHS visa’ to make it easier for foreign doctors to work in the UK, while overseas recruitment will play a role in plans to increase GP numbers by 6,000.

A survey in the summer found that the average wait for routine appointments had risen to 15 days – the first time it had gone beyond two weeks.

The planned increase will be phased in over four years and accompanied by a recruitment drive. Mr Hancock said it would require an extra 6,000 GPs and 6,000 nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

Critics are likely to question if the new investment will be enough. A report by three leading think-tanks this year warned that the NHS was already on course to be 7,000 GPs short within five years.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Health Secretary acknowledged rising public concern about the issue – and said he had sometimes struggled to get an appointment himself in the past [File photo]

But Mr Hancock insisted it could make a big difference.He is enthusiastic about innovations such as phone and Skype consultations with GPs where appropriate. 

Digital booking will be rolled out across the UK and patients will be offered the option of online consultations.

But Mr Hancock added: ‘If someone wants to see a GP face to face, I want them to be able to.’ 

He also declined to set a target for waiting times, saying it depended on the circumstances.

Mr Hancock said: ‘People should be able to see their GP on the day if they need to.’

Around half of all appointments in GP surgeries are with doctors. The remainder are with other clinicians, such as nurses and physiotherapists.

Some campaigners have called for patients to be fined for missed appointments. But Mr Hancock indicated that he was reluctant to go down that route.

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