Guaranteed GP Appointments – Great News for Oldham

IMG_1755Ed Miliband’s promise that on re-election in 2015 he will re-instate a guaranteed 48 hour appointments system for GPs is great news for people in Oldham and Saddleworth.

Under this Government it’s become harder to see a GP in Oldham and Saddleworth with people having to wait longer and longer. In recent months I have received an increased number of cases about access to local GP services, especially in Saddleworth.

Across the country more people are having to wait over 48 hours for an appointment and over a quarter of the public say they can’t get an appointment in the same week.

This simply isn’t good enough for families who depend on their local GP service and it’s also putting huge strain on our A&Es which are also now in crisis.

My first NHS Check Oldham report showed that the Royal Oldham Hospital missed the 4 hour waiting target on 38% of days between April and December last year despite staff working hard to manage additional demand. I saw for myself how hard they are working on my visit to A&E in December (read about my visit here).

It’s really not surprising that A&Es are under increased pressure when it’s so hard to get to see your own GP and people are forced to go to their nearest A&E.

Ed’s announcement is great news for people in Oldham and Saddleworth as it will guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours for everyone, and for those who need it we want to see access to a same-day appointment.

On top of this we will also give people the right to book more than 48 hours ahead with the GP of their choice. This will help those for whom the priority is not speed but the ability to plan ahead and the ability to see the same doctor.

Over the longer term, ensuring better access to primary and community care can lead to dramatic savings by reducing the need for more expensive hospital care. So this GP access guarantee is not only about improving healthcare but is also a key part of our plan to help the NHS survive.

We will fund this by saving £100m from scrapping the wasteful competition rules that force the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to put all health services work out to tender with private healthcare providers which was actually the real agenda for this Tory-led government all along.

When Labour were in Government we transformed GP access through a combination of investment and reform so by 2010, the vast majority (80%) of patients could get a GP appointment within 48 hours.

But David Cameron scrapped Labour’s guarantee of a GP appointment in 48 hours saying it was “no longer a priority.

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