No one should wait more than two weeks to see their GP, says Coffey

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No patient should have to wait more than two weeks to see a GP, the new Health Secretary will demand, in a move that has already been criticized by family doctors.

Thérèse Coffey will set out a new “expectation” on Thursday that everyone seeking an appointment with a GP must get one within 14 days as she outlines a major plan to tackle the growing NHS crisis.

A campaign to speed up patients’ access to GP care in England should also mean more patients with pressing medical concerns are seen on the day they seek a consultation, he will tell MPs.

But the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has accused Coffey, who is also the deputy prime minister, of overloading surgeries on already struggling GPs with new targets that will not improve care.

Professor Martin Marshall, president of the university, said that seven out of eight patients, 85%, had already seen a family doctor within two weeks. In addition, 44% were seen the same day they sought medical help, he added.

Loading a struggling service with more expectations, without a plan for how to deliver them, will only serve to increase the intense workload and workforce pressures facing GPs and our teams, while having minimal impact on the care patients receive. Marshall said.

However, Coffey cannot force GPs to limit waiting times to two weeks, The Guardian understands. That would require the Department of Health and Social Care to renegotiate the GP contract it agrees each year with the British Medical Association.

Coffey will set out more details of her ambition when she reveals what she will call “Our plan for patients” on Thursday, in her first major appearance since becoming health and social care secretary in Liz Truss’s government on Sept. 6.

He will also visit a GP practice and take part in the morning round of the government media to publicize his plan, which is intended to mitigate growing public dissatisfaction with the difficulty many patients experience when trying to see a GP. family quickly.

Coffey will also reveal plans for:

• Free up 3 million GP appointments a year for pharmacists, physical therapists and other health professionals, many of whom work in surgeries and see more patients.

• Fund better cloud-based phone systems for practices that help callers get through faster.

• Increase the number of people with minor ailments who go to street pharmacists.

• Requiring all GP practices to publish appointment data: a move the RCGP warned could lead to a crude ‘league table’ of performance.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, reminded Coffey that the last Labor government had given patients the right to see a GP within 48 hours, “until the Conservatives scrapped it”.

“Conservatives who promise to solve the difficulties patients face in getting an appointment with their GP are like arsonists who promise to put out a fire,” he added.

Streeting also said the Conservatives’ next NHS plan would do little to address a shortage of doctors, nurses and health workers that is fueling workforce backlogs and discontent.

He said NHS staff were crying out for “a credible workforce plan. They know that it will not be delivered overnight. But at the moment, we don’t see any sign of that long-term thinking.”

Beccy Baird, a senior research fellow at the health think tank King’s Fund, warned that the maximum two-week wait risked appearing like “a quick fix” for deep-seated problems plaguing general practice, especially the declining number of full-time GPs.

“Access to GPs is a problem for patients, but targets are not the answer. Having an access goal will not by itself generate more GP or more capacity in the system, which is what you really need. Only a long-term GP workforce plan will do that.”

Helen Buckingham, chief strategy officer at Nuffield Trust, said: “A commitment to guarantee an appointment within two weeks may be good policy, but it risks applying a one-size-fits-all solution to a significantly more complex picture. The government should move away from micromanaging schedules for appointments and instead focus on the outcomes they want to see in primary care.”

Sources say Coffey may also announce plans to dilute or even eliminate the duty of the hospital’s A&E units to treat and admit, discharge or transfer patients within four hours. But a senior NHS figure warned it would cause “uproar” if it abandoned the health service’s best-known performance target, which hospitals have failed to meet for years.

The NHS Confederation, which represents NHS care providers in England, urged Coffey to increase funding for social care. That would help get many of the 13,000 “late discharge” patients out of the hospital, who are medically fit to leave but unable to get social care, and help prevent the service from facing “a health emergency this winter,” she said. .

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