A LABOUR government would put an extra £100m into GP surgeries in England to pay for three million more appointments a year and guarantee NHS patients can see a doctor within 48 hours, Ed Miliband has announced.
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.
He released figures obtained through freedom of information requests showing that health commissioners and trusts are spending at least £78m a year on new competition requirements, and cited official figures showing that the key quangos of the Government’s NHS reorganisation – Monitor, the Trust Development Authority and Commissioning Support Units – are spending £55m annually on consultants and very senior managers.
Mr Miliband said it was a “scandal” that numbers of patients getting a GP appointment within 48 hours had fallen from 80 per cent under Labour to just 40 per cent now, while a quarter of people are now unable to get a GP appointment in the same week.
Accusing David Cameron of having “broken his bond of trust with the British people” on the NHS, he said that difficulties getting GP appointments were increasing pressure on A&E departments. A five per cent increase in patients seeing their preferred GP could cut emergency admissions by up to 159,000 year, saving the NHS £375m, he said.
Under Labour’s plan, every NHS patient contacting their surgery would have the right to consult a doctor or nurse the same day, with a face-to-face appointment in the if they need to be seen quickly. Those who do not need to see a doctor or nurse immediately, and whose problem cannot be dealt with remotely, would be guaranteed an appointment within 48 hours.Patients would be given a right to book non-urgent appointments with the GP of their choice more than 48 hours in advance.
“This will be better for patients, because they have better access to their GP surgery; better for the NHS, because it will save money currently spent in A&E and better for Britain, because it is the kind of health service we need,” Mr Miliband said.