National Crisis in NHS Primary Care
It has been two weeks since I learned that the Putnoe Walk In Centre consultation was brought to an abrupt end and we still await news on what the new proposals will look like for urgent care in Bedford.
GP workforce figures released yesterday show the number of GPs in England dropped by more than 500 in three months. This is yet more evidence of a primary care crisis: services are understaffed and underfunded.
The Conservatives make promises on the NHS that are time and again proven meaningless. Despite the brilliant efforts of NHS staff who work tirelessly in the face of increasing pressures, years of pay restraint and a failure to invest in and plan appropriately for the workforce has resulted in almost 100,000 staff vacancies.
On 18 June the then Health Secretary delivered a statement to the House of Commons outlining the Government’s proposals to increase NHS funding by £20.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023-24 – an average of 3.4% per year increase over the next five years – but Jeremy Hunt provided no detail of how the commitment would be funded.
At the general election last year, Labour pledged an additional £45 billion for the NHS and social care system and offered a long-term workforce plan to ensure safe staffing levels and to give staff the support they need. Our plan involved nearly £9billion extra for health and social care in the first year of a Labour government paid for by fair increases in taxation – this would amount to more than a 5% increase immediately.
I strongly agree with Labour’s pledge to work towards a new model of community care that takes into account not only primary care but also social care and mental health, increasing funding to GP services to ensure patients can access the care they need.