GPs up and down the country work hard in difficult circumstances to provide the best possible care for their patients. I value the staff that work in our NHS and I support investment in the health and care workforce to make sure there are enough doctors to look after patients.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has published a report which highlights the challenges facing general practice. The report reveals that most GPs are "overburdened with workload" and surgeries find it difficult to recruit staff. I was concerned to learn that fewer GPs are doing full-time clinical work in general practice and that large numbers of GPs are leaving the profession.
In the report, the BMA calls for: fair and sustainable funding and resources for general practice "to reach a minimum of 11% of NHS spend"; reducing workload to ensure safe care, with a national standard for a maximum number of patients that GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals can deal with reasonably; an expanded workforce; reductions in the regulatory burden of the Care Quality Commission; reduced bureaucracy; empowerment of patients to give them confidence to manage their care; and better infrastructure and technology.
The independent charity, The King's Fund, has revealed that the percentage of overall NHS expenditure on primary care fell from more than 8.3% in 2010/11 to 7.94% in 2014/15. Furthermore, despite a pledge from Conservative Ministers to increase the number of GPs by 5,000 by 2020/21, the number actually fell by 0.3% in 2016.
The latest GP survey, published by NHS England in July 2017, reveals an overall decline in patients' experience of GP services, with the time it takes to get a GP appointment given as the top reason among those who are dissatisfied. The BMA said that the results of the survey reflects the growing impact from the unsustainable pressures facing general practice and claims that the Government is "failing to address increasing staff shortages" and is providing "insufficient funding."
At the General Election in June Labour’s manifesto pledged over £30 billion in additional funding for the NHS in this Parliament, with resources focused on services to provide care close to home. Our manifesto also pledged to work towards a new model of community care with increased funding to general practice to ensure patients can access the care they need. More widely, I believe the Conservative Government should support doctors to deliver the best care possible by investing in training, development and education throughout their careers.
Labour's long-term ambition is for our health system to have the best trained staff in the world who are ready to deal with whatever they have to face in the years to come. Labour will re-introduce nurse bursaries and funding for health-related degrees. Labour will support doctors to deliver the best care possible by investing in the training, education and development of doctors throughout their careers.