Saturday 21 September 2019 / 10:32 AM Health / Jonathan Ashworth / NHS

Labour to train new generation of GPs – delivering 27 million extra appointments a year

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, will use a speech at Labour Party conference tomorrow (Sunday), to announce plans to increase the number of GP trainees in England by almost 50 per cent, relieving the strain on surgeries and easing the burden on GPs, which is forcing many out of the profession.

Delivering this number of GPs would mean that the next Labour Government could provide an estimated 27 million extra GP appointments each year once they are trained.

The NHS has a crisis in recruitment and retention of staff. The NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in the UK for 50 years, with one in three estimated to quit the profession in the next five years. The chair of the Royal College of GPs has publicly urged the government to increase the number of trainees in England from 3,500 to 5,000 as soon as possible to relieve the strain on surgeries and GP burnout that is pushing so many to quit. 

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: 

“If you want to resolve the crisis in our NHS you need a plan to fix primary care.

“We all know how difficult it is to get a GP appointment, trying to get through on the phone and then forced to wait weeks to see a family doctor.

“But I also know the pressures our GPs are under day in, day out.  We’ve lost just over 1600 full time GPs under the Tories and GPs tell me they are overworked, exhausted and pushed to the brink.

“The Tory proposal to order GPs to offer an appointment or face penalties simply won’t work after years of underfunding. We will put in the levels of investment Boris Johnson refuses to do.

“Labour will expand GP training places by 1,500. Raising the number of places to 5,000 a year, and by building up the GP workforce it will mean 27 million extra GP appointments there for you and your family, when you need it.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

  • The NHS is facing a chronic lack of GPs the NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in the UK for 50 years (SOURCE: Nuffield Trust)
  • In 2015, Jeremy Hunt sent a target to recruit 5000 more GPs into general practice by 2020, a claim reiterated by Matt Hancock in October 2018. Despite this, the NHS lost 576 full-time equivalent GPs last year – one in 50 of the total – according to latest official workforce figures published at the end of August 2019. In June it had 28,257 full-time, fully qualified GPs, compared with 28,833 a year earlier Source: NHS Digital)
  • Growing numbers of GPs are giving up as a result of a relentless rise in the demand for patient care. (SOURCE: RCGP/GPonline)
  • Currently, many patients have to wait more than two weeks to see a GP. The GP Patient Survey shows a quarter of patients now wait a week or more to see their GP. This number has almost doubled since 2012 (SOURCE: GP Patient Survey)
  • The chair of the Royal College of GPs has publicly urged the government to increase the number of trainees in England from 3,500 to 5,000. (SOURCE: RCGP)
  • Training an additional 1,500 GPs to would cost £272.6m million, across the three years of training for GPs.

 Labour’s full pledge on NHS England funding will be laid out in our forthcoming fully-costed manifesto.