Despite the investment of more than £2 billion over the last two years, I recognise that many patients continue to experience difficulty in accessing a GP appointment and I have seen a notable increase in the number of correspondences I receive from Fylde residents regarding difficulty accessing GP appointments. The 8am rush for appointments has been a particular bottleneck, and I know of people who have phoned their surgery day after day only to be told that all appointments have been fully booked, often missing out by a matter of seconds.
I am therefore pleased that the Government has made it a key priority that every patient who needs an appointment should be able to see their GP within two weeks. Every patient who has urgent needs should be able to see their GP on the same day. The Government is investing at least £1.5 billion to create an additional 50 million GP appointments by 2024.
As announced in the Autumn Statement, the Government is investing an additional £3.3 billion in each of 2023/24 and 2024/25 to enable rapid action to improve urgent and emergency, elective, and primary care performance to pre-pandemic levels. In May this year, the Government published a delivery plan for recovering access to primary care, including GP services. This new plan will ensure that it is easier for patients to contact their GP and will end the 8am rush, with £240 million given to practices across England to embrace the latest technology.
In May this year, the Government published a delivery plan for recovering access to primary care, including GP services. This new plan will ensure that it is easier for patients to contact their GP and will end the 8am rush, with £240 million given to practices across England to embrace the latest technology. These reforms gave a commitment to giving pharmacists the powers to prescribe certain medications for seven common conditions including earache, sore throat, or urinary tract infections, rather than requiring a GP prescription. These measures are aimed at freeing up an estimated two million appointments. In addition, GP funding rules will be changed to allow GPs to increase the number of staff in their practice, with the aim of freeing up another one million GP appointments.
The Government is also supporting the training, retention and recruitment of GPs to help increase the number of appointments. In 2021/22, 4,000 doctors accepted a training place compared to 2,671 doctors in 2014. Furthermore, on 12 August, NHS England announced plans to support GP services through the recruitment of extra social prescribing link workers and care-coordinators to support patients with other needs.
The Government is not only providing funding to support GP practices but is also innovating healthcare delivery to ensure that people across the UK can access GPs more quickly and flexibly. For example, choice of provider at the point of GP referral will be available to all patients from April 2023 at the latest, supported by information to be made available to patients through the NHS App.
In November last year, data on GP appointments was published for the first time ever to allow patients to make a more informed choice about the practice they choose to visit. The statistics, which cover all GP practices across England, are being made available to inform patients how many appointments each practice is delivering and on the length of time taken from booking an appointment to the appointment itself.
This will improve transparency about performance and give patients more information to help them make informed choices when choosing their practice. The data is available online on NHS Digital: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/ap…
Nevertheless, I know that it will take time for this investment and reform to be felt and if you have any specific concerns or wish to share your experience, please do not hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org