Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 7th March 2023.
What steps he is taking to improve patient access to primary care.
We have increased real-terms spending on general practice by more than a fifth since 2015. We are growing the workforce, with 2,200 more doctors and 25,000 extra primary care clinicians compared with 2019. We have the most GPs in training ever, up from 2,600 to 4,000. In January there were 11% more appointments in general practice than in the same month before the pandemic. I pay tribute to the work that general practitioners are doing.
Under the Tories, the number of qualified GPs has fallen to a record low, which is hitting local communities across the UK very hard. In January, in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale, more than 2,000 people had to wait more than a month for a GP appointment. Is it not the case that the longer the Tories are in power, the longer patients will have to wait?
As well as the 2,200 extra doctors in primary care, I mentioned the 25,000 extra other clinicians. That means that in the hon. Lady’s constituency there are 55% more staff working directly with patients than before.
At a time when GP and A&E services are under pressure, I am pleased to see the ministerial team’s focus on helping people to see a doctor when they need to. Does the Minister agree that walk-in centres, such as ours in Norwich city centre, are helpful, popular and necessary?
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right; walk-in centres are a key part of primary care. We are looking at how they can do more, and I pay tribute to all the work they are already doing.