Further reaffirmation of this week’s findings by the influential Nuffield Trust which warned that the NHS is enduring the first sustained fall in GP numbers for 50 years, it is, sadly and infuriatingly, yet another policy emergency being ignored due to Brexit.
And while this country’s failure to train – and retain – sufficient medical professionals precedes the Tories coming to power in 2010, the consequences – namely longer waiting times and continuing concerns about the availability of out-of-hours care – have certainly become more acute under this Government.
It is time that both Theresa May and Matt Hancock, her unimpressive Health and Social Care Secretary, stopped using Brexit as an excuse for their inaction over NHS recruitment and social care – these issues, and many others, will still be critical long after the country has finally left the EU.
They need to remember that general practitioners are effectively the gatekeepers to the NHS – patients need to go through their GP if they are to get the most appropriate treatment for their illness or condition.
If people can’t see a doctor within a reasonable period of time at their local surgery, some will inevitably go to their local A&E unit and, in doing so, place the region’s hospitals under even greater pressure.
And the consequences don’t end here. A prolonged wait will add to the unnecessary anxiety being felt by some patients while others, in particular senior citizens, will be put off from seeking an appointment for a serious illness because they do not wish to be a burden.
Doing nothing or blaming Labour, as Mrs May did this week over social care, is not a remedy and it is time that the Government recognised this rather than allowing itself to be totally blinkered and blindsided by Brexit.