GP Services and Funding January 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding GP services and funding.

I appreciate and share your concerns over the changes that are being made to GP services. GPs work incredibly hard in often challenging circumstances and more should be done to ensure they can care for all of their patients to a high standard. I know that morale is already low in the NHS and with an aging population, the worry is that these problems are only going to get worse.

The Coalition Government’s cuts to the NHS of roughly £20 Billion have had a negative impact, leading to reduced numbers of staff and services which is putting a strain on our doctors. I was very concerned by the recent National Audit Office report on access to general practice in England that showed that is growing dissatisfaction with access to GP surgeries, while age, ethnicity and where a patient lives can bear heavily on their ability to get an appointment. The report also noted that problems in recruiting and retaining GPs are increasing.

Over a quarter of the population, equivalent to 14 million people, now wait a week or more for a GP appointment or can't get one at all, and the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned that GP services are at breaking point, with GPs facing increasing workloads and declining resources.

As you may now be aware, following pressure from the RCGP and others, the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement and Spending Review an extra 5,000 doctors in general practice supported by £750 million of investment and a new national voluntary contract for GPs. The Chancellor promised that its investment in the health service would ensure that everyone will be able to access GP services in the evenings and at the weekend.

However, more widely, the Government have pushed up waiting lists, and plunged hospitals in to financial crisis. Hospitals are dealing with record deficits, there is a crisis in A&E and record numbers of elderly patients are stuck in hospital because of a lack of care in the community. Additionally, the Government remains committed to making £22 billion worth of efficiency savings in the NHS by 2020 which cannot be delivered without harming patient care.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my appreciation to GPs for the important work that they do, and to assure you that I will continue to follow this issue, and the detail of the Government's recent Autumn Statement and Spending Review announcements, closely.

I fought the General Election on a manifesto that planned to recruit 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs which would be paid for by a tax on properties worth over £2 million. It also guaranteed a GP appointment within 48 hours.

Thank you once again for writing to me. I will continue to bear in mind the points you have raised.