As new figures today show that under this Tory-led government 600 fewer GPs are open at evenings and the weekend, making healthcare less accessible, I'm proud Labour will fund 800 new GPs in our region and help surgeries stay open later.
Those figures on 600 fewer GPs being open late underline the true scale of the Tory-led Government's NHS crisis – with patients forced to turn to A&E as they struggle to secure a slot to see their doctor on the first working day after the Easter break, which saw doctors and NHS England express fresh concern about GP access and the resulting pressure on A&E departments.
David Cameron first promised seven-day opening for GP surgeries in the Conservative manifesto before the last general election in May 2010, but once in Government promptly cut back Labour’s scheme for evening and weekend GP opening — with disastrous effects on A&Es like our own at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Meanwhile, nearly two million more patients are unhappy with GP opening hours compared to three years ago as they lose access to evening and weekend appointments, according to new analysis of government statistics that flies in the face of repeated promises by David Cameron to support practices opening for seven days.
Labour’s extended hours scheme enabled GP evening and weekend opening at 77 per cent of surgeries by July 2009. Yet, David Cameron cut the scheme’s funding from £3.01 to £1.90 for every registered patient and removed the 48-hour appointment guarantee from the NHS Constitution – labelling it "no longer a priority".
Labour’s plan to ensure better access to family doctors will see 8,000 more GPs recruited by 2020 and will help surgeries offer more convenient opening times. Based on the current distribution of GPs in England, it would mean significant increases in GP numbers in every region.