Labour leader Ed Miliband pledges those who need to, will see a GP on the day
Everyone who needs to see a family doctor on the day will be given an appointment, and everyone else will be seen within 48 hours if Labour wins power, Ed Miliband has pledged.
The Labour leader last night unveiled his £100m “GP guarantee”, which he said would improve services and ease pressure on hospitals.
Mr Miliband said the cash would come from abolishing the market framework introduced by the coalition Government and reducing spending on consultants and senior managers.
But the Tories said the promise was an “unfunded pie-in-the-sky policy that Labour can’t pay for and doctors can’t deliver”, claiming it was the “same old Labour”.
Labour’s promise comes just days analysis by the Royal College of GPs showed patients waited more than a week to see their GP on 47 million occasions in 2013 – one in six of all consultations.
Last month Prime Minister David Cameron announced that 7.5 million people in England would be offered increased access to more than 1,000 GP surgeries, with seven day opening and 8am to 8pm appointments.
However, officials from the Department of Health and NHS England admitted that services in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire would not be receiving any money from the Prime Minister’s £50m GP Access Fund.
In a speech in Manchester last night Mr Miliband said Labour would give all NHS patients contacting their surgery the right to:
• Consult a doctor or a nurse at their local GP surgery on the same day
• Get an appointment at their surgery on the same day if they need to be seen quickly
• Have a guaranteed appointment at their GP surgery within 48 hours
• Book an appointment more than 48 hours ahead with the GP of their choice
Mr Miliband said: “One of the greatest achievements of our NHS and the 20th Century is now also one of the greatest challenges for our NHS in the 21st Century. It’s great people are living longer - but it means the NHS is having to cope with people in their 80s and 90s that it never had to cope with before. They don’t simply have medical needs, but care needs which the NHS is not used to tackling.
“A hospital can only be as good as the services around it: access to the GP; care in the home; prevention, not just cure. If those things aren’t right, all of the problems end back up on the hospital. There is a greater need than ever before to make sure services are joined up so that people with chronic conditions can continue to live independently at home. And there are ever greater advances in medical awareness and technology: illnesses we once didn’t know existed we now know how to treat. So people’s expectations of care are rightly higher than ever before.”
But a Tory health spokesman said: “The last Labour government vandalised the relationship between GPs and their patients by introducing tick-box targets and scrapping family doctors, something we are now putting right.
“Far from improving access, another top-down target will leave GPs less time with their patients and put more pressure on general practice. The real solution is less micro-management and more GPs, something we’ve already committed to.”