Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has blasted the Conservative Government’s failure to draw up an NHS workforce plan despite over a decade in office after new data from the NHS has shown that more people are waiting a month for a GP appointment than at any time since when records began in 2017.
3288 people in Stockton on Tees faced a wait of 28 days or more to see a GP in October alone. A further 12636 people had to wait more than two weeks.
Almost two million people in England had to wait more than 28 days in October, while a further 4.3 million had to wait more than two weeks. At the same time, the number of GPs has fallen to a record low, leaving patients in a desperate scramble to be seen. Since 2013, 4,600 GPs have been cut.
The findings come as MPs prepare to vote on a motion proposed by the Labour Party to abolish the non-dom tax status, which allows some wealthy people who live in Britain to pay their taxes overseas, to fund the training of a new generation of NHS staff.
In response to a written question (98751) from Alex asking the Health Secretary when he planned to publish the long-term workforce plan announced in the Autumn Statement 2022, the Stockton North MP was told the Government would publish it next year.
“Patients across Stockton on Tees are finding it impossible to see a GP when they need to. Among those waiting more than a month or not getting an appointment at all, there will be conditions going undiagnosed until it is too late.
“This backlog of appointments is solely down to twelve years of Conservative failure to train the staff our NHS needs, and their negligence has left it with thousands fewer GPs. Patients are paying the price of Tory underfunding of our NHS and lack of planning when it comes to recruitment, training and retention of the health workforce.
“Labour has a plan for the NHS and will train a new generation of doctors and nurses, paid for by abolishing non-dom tax status. Patients need doctors’ appointments more than the wealthiest need a tax break. Meanwhile the Conservatives are protecting the non-dom tax status, allowing people who live in Britain to pay their taxes overseas. We need doctors and nurses, not non-doms.”
Labour’s plan would:
- Double the number of medical school places, training 15,000 new doctors a year
- Train 10,000 additional nurses and midwives every year
- Double the number of district nurses qualifying each year
- Train 5,000 new health visitors
The Labour Party has also announced that patients would be guaranteed a face-to-face appointment with a GP if they want one. Many patients are frustrated at not being able to see their doctor in person, and just 22% of patients are given a choice in the type of appointment they have.
One in seven people who try to speak to a nurse or GP were unable to get an appointment at all last year.