Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Thank you to all those working in our GP surgeries who contacted me regarding primary care, to share their personal experiences of being a GP in Islington.
I’ve been contacted by many GPs who are in despair about the Tories’ mismanagement of GP services. It really underscores the huge challenges facing primary care that the number of patients per full time equivalent GP has risen by 26% since 2019 in our local NHS Trust.
Since 2010, we’ve seen a staggering string of broken promises on primary care, including promising 24/7 GP services, guaranteed same-day appointments for the over-75s, and 50 million more GP appointments a year – none of which have materialised.
And we’ve been endlessly promised an expansion of the GP workforce, with the most recent Conservative manifesto promising 6,000 new GPs recruited. Instead, there are actually 823 fewer GPs practicing now than there were in December 2019, appointment availability is also down, and more than a third of GPs told a recent survey they want to quit within five years. We simply can’t go on like this.
It’s completely unacceptable for the Tories to dangle these promises in front of hard-working GP staff and their patients, only for them to fail to deliver time and time again. The result of this catalogue of broken promises is that while hardworking GPs work flat out to try and deliver for their patients in increasingly tough circumstances, the public are struggling to book GP appointments, serious conditions are going undiagnosed, and patients are waiting longer than is safe for treatment. The result is growing backlogs across the whole health system and the shocking statistic that 90% of general practice staff are concerned about their ability to deliver adequate care.
When Labour was last in government we transformed the NHS, and the next Labour government will do so again – including in general practice. That’s why Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, is currently consulting on potential models for reform, so that we can return sustainability to primary care, ease the pressure on staff, and fix the problems the Tories have created.
And it’s also why Labour is committed to doubling the number of funded medical school places so that we can train 7,500 extra new doctors per year – including GPs – to fix the recruitment crisis.
Please know that as the party of the NHS, Labour will always stand up for ensuring that hard-working NHS staff get the support they need to run the effective and well-managed health services patients deserve.