To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support emergency departments in hospitals in Coventry that are experiencing a record number of unnecessary visits in the absence of GP appointments; and if he will make a statement.
The Government has committed to ensuring everyone across the country has easier and more convenient access to general practice services, including appointments in the evenings and weekends. The latest National Health Service planning guidance, issued by NHS England in February 2018, requires clinical commissioning groups to provide extended access to general practice to their whole population by 1 October 2018, to ensure additional capacity is in place ahead of winter 2018.
The General Practice Forward View (GP Forward View), published in April 2016, commits increasing investment in General Practice by £2.4 billion a year by 2020/2021 from £9.7 billion in 2015/16 to over £12 billion by 2020/21 – a 14% real-terms increase. It will improve patient care and access, and invest in new ways of providing primary care.
In addition, the number of doctors entering speciality training has been increasing year on year. In 2017/18, there were 3,157 new starters recruited to speciality GP training posts, the highest number recruited ever. In August 2017 NHS England announced plans to accelerate its international recruitment programme and recruit 2,000 doctors into English general practice over the following three years. To boost retention there is a broad offer available to support GPs to remain in the NHS including the GP Health Service, the GP Retention Scheme, and the recently launched a £10 million GP Retention Fund which includes funds targeted at specific areas.
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust have been closely supported by NHS Improvement’s Intensive Support Team for the last 12 months and are actively working through recommendations to improve emergency care. NHS Improvement has recently offered £347,000 to support transformation work around urgent and emergency care in Coventry; funds will be distributed to areas with the greatest scope for patient care improvements.
Hospitals in Coventry are also supported by national services, such as NHS 111, which offers a 24/7 service available across England for patients who require non-urgent advice which can include input from a range of clinical professionals where appropriate.