Election campaign ‘did not tackle NHS issue’

One Medical Group chief executive Rachel Beverley-Stevenson
One Medical Group chief executive Rachel Beverley-Stevenson
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Politicians have failed to address the real issues facing the NHS during the General Election campaign, One Medical Group boss Rachel Beverley-Stevenson has said.

Workforce supply and service demand are two of the most pressing concerns in the health service, but have not been tackled by any political party, Ms Beverley-Stevenson said.

Independent healthcare provider One Medical Group operates GP surgeries and urgent care centres, as well as running a portfolio of NHS clinical premises.

Ms Beverley-Stevenson told The Yorkshire Post that care providers would be “disappointed” by the debate surrounding the NHS during the election campaign.

She said: “Most people within care will be disappointed that the real issues aren’t being tackled by any of them.”

In its manifesto, the Conservative party committed to boost NHS spending in England by at £8bn over the next five years, while providing seven-day access to GPs by 2020.

Labour has promised an extra £2.5bn funding for the NHS, which will fund 20,000 nurses, 3,000 midwives and 8,000 GPs.

It also said it would undo reforms in the Health and Social Care Act and cap the amount of profit private operators can make from the NHS at five per cent.

The Liberal Democrats are proposing £8bn investment by 2020, including £1bn a year to 2018, while UKIP has pledged an extra £3bn a year.

While the NHS is facing intense cost pressures, the wider, structural issues have not been addressed by any party, Ms Beverley-Stevenson said.

She said: “Workforce is a massive challenge and it’s been very disappointing in this election campaign that nobody has really talked about that.

“What they have said is, ‘we’ll fund 8,000 new doctors and so many new nurses’. Well where are these people?

“It takes 10 years to train a GP and a number of years to train a really good nurse. There are not great big drawers of them, plus there’s not the money to train them.”

As well as lower numbers of trainees coming through, a reliance on sessional staff is compounding the problem, she said.

“We’ve created a market over the last few years where it’s much more attractive to GPs and nurses to be a locum worker,” she said.

“Unless the government stops that by capping rates, I can’t see how they’re ever going to solve this workforce crisis.”

The rates paid for locum and bank staff are sometimes double the rate of staff workers, which is also hitting budgets, she said.

Ms Beverley-Stevenson also highlighted the battle against rising demand, as many patients access the wrong services.

“Thirty per cent of patients, as a minimum, are not going to the right place for their care,” she said.

“They’re going to doctors when they could be treated in a different setting or in a different way. No-one’s talking about that.”

In terms of spending commitments, many healthcare providers are of the view that “none of the numbers are big enough”.

“That is partly because they’re based on this rising demand. We’ve got to have a conversation with the public.

“The money will run out. It’s when, not if,” Ms Beverley-Stevenson added.

Since its launch in 2004, One Medical Group has grown its portfolio to 14 premises and 16 primary care centres.

Its turnover has risen to more than £10m.