New data from the NHS has shown that more people are waiting a month for a GP appointment than at any time since when records began in 2017. 1,988 people in Washington and Sunderland West faced a wait of 28 days or more to see a GP in October alone. A further 5,503 people had to wait more than two weeks.
Almost two million people in England had to wait more than 28 days in October, while a further 4.3 million had to wait more than two weeks. At the same time, the number of GPs has fallen to a record low, leaving patients in a desperate scramble to be seen. Since 2013, 4,600 GPs have been cut.
The findings come as MPs prepare to vote on a motion proposed by the Labour Party to abolish the non-dom tax status, which allows some wealthy people who live in Britain to pay their taxes overseas, to pay for training a new generation of NHS staff. Labour’s plan would:
- Double the number of medical school places, training 15,000 new doctors a year
- Train 10,000 additional nurses and midwives every year
- Double the number of district nurses qualifying each year
- Train 5,000 new health visitors
Labour’s plan will see patients guaranteed a face-to-face appointment with a GP if they want one. While some patients prefer to hold appointments over the phone, many are frustrated at not being able to see their doctor in person, and just 22% of patients are given a choice in the type of appointment they have. One in seven people who try to speak to a nurse or GP were unable to get an appointment at all last year.
Labour is also pledging to bring back the family doctor, so patients can see the same GP each appointment if they choose to. Patients are increasingly unable to see the doctor of their choice, with two in every three patients rarely or never speaking to their preferred doctor, up from just half in 2018. Under Labour’s plans, GP practices will be provided with incentives to offer patients continuity of care, so doctors must take into account patients’ preferences
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said:
“I recently held a public meeting in which residents consistently voiced their concerns around NHS waiting times, with many patients in my constituency finding it impossible to see a GP when they need to. Among those thousands waiting more than a month to get a GP appointment or not getting an appointment at all, there will be conditions going undiagnosed until it is too late.”
Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“12 years of Conservative failure to train the staff our NHS needs has left it with thousands fewer GPs, and patients are paying the price. Meanwhile the Conservatives are protecting the non-dom tax status, allowing people who live in Britain to pay their taxes overseas. We need more doctors and nurses, not non-doms.
“Labour will train a new generation of doctors and nurses, paid for by abolishing non-doms. Patients need doctors’ appointments more than the wealthiest need a tax break.
“Patients should be able to see the doctor they want, in the manner they choose, when they need to. Labour will put patients first and get them seen on time again.”