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Miliband promises £100m investment in primary care

Practice nurses must be supported to help improve access to GP services, the Royal College of Nursing has said in response to a Labour Party announcement on access to primary care.

A Labour government would boost primary care services with £100m from savings elsewhere in the NHS, the party’s leader has said in a key speech yesterday evening.

The extra cash for GP services will help ensure all patients get a GP appointment within 48 hours, Ed Miliband said.

“If you’re ill, you shouldn’t have to wait to see a GP. With Labour you and your family will be able to see a GP within 48 hours. Guaranteed,” he said.

Labour said the £100m would come from “scrapping government rules which have led to spending of at least £78m on unnecessary administration and legal fees because NHS services are now under threat from EU competition law”.

A Labour administration would also spend less on Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and Commissioning Support Units.

Labour said research it had conducted with the Freedom of Information Act showed that hospital trusts were spending £31m “on assessing and bidding for NHS tenders” and £21m on “handling competition issues relating to reconfigurations and mergers and acquisitions”.

“Practice nurses are already providing a significant proportion of general practice services”

Peter Carter

A further £26m had been spent by clinical commissioning groups on “competitive tendering and external and legal advice relating to competition issues”, according to the party’s research.

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, noted that providing 48-hour access to practice services “would require a substantial investment, not only in GPs but in the entire practice team”.

Peter Carter

“Practice nurses are already providing a significant proportion of general practice services and appointments, and many are already struggling to keep up with demand,” he said. “They would need a great deal more support to enable them to further increase patient access.”

Mr Carter added: “A well supported practice team of GPs, nurses and healthcare support workers can do a great deal to provide patients with the care they deserve and help reduce pressures on other areas in the health service.

“This should include having the right number of staff in the first place, and then supporting those staff with regular training and development.”

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said she was glad politicians had realised “general practice is now teetering on the brink of collapse”.

“Ed Miliband’s announcement that more money should be channelled into general practice is therefore extremely welcome,” she said.

Maureen Baker

Maureen Baker

NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said the NHS was facing “unprecedented pressure” and there was no “magic porridge pot” of funding available.

“It is vital that any proposals to widen care or access are grounded in evidence that they improve patient outcomes and experience at least as well as alternative proposals,” he said. “Labour’s proposals are no exception.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • 1)If General Practitioners were relieved of the plethora of administrative duties, service acquisition duties and politically generated monitoring priorities they may find that they could actually dispense their professional skills, acquired from many hours of experience.
    2)Also, upon registering with a GP I am not happy to be fobbed off with a ten minute chat with a Health Care Assistant.
    3)People should educate themselves on personal health issues and cease to take up the GP's time with trivia and self induced incapacity brought on by poor lifestyle choices.

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  • £100M is trivial sum in a £100+bn health budget. What would be good to hear is Miliband saying the NHS funding will reflect true inflation and compensate for demands of demographics. Perhaps he has not realised that the NHS is not ring fenced. In the meantime things are set to get worse with 10% cut to the DH admin budget which will affect PC.

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  • NO! If I go to my GP then a doctor it has to be! I don't think seeing a nurse is safe and I won't be fobbed off.

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  • you have to be triaged by telephonist in order to go to a GP practice and be triaged by a receptionist in order to be triaged by a nurse to be triaged by a GP to get to a 'Specialist' or a 'Consultant'.

    you have to be triaged by a call girl on Tel 111 to be triaged by a nurse to be triaged by a doctor in A&E to gain access to hospital care and then triaged by nurses to be triaged by a junior doctor to be triaged by registrar to get access to a Consultant to be triaged by him/her to gain access any other Specialist you need?

    why not get rid of the ridiculously archaic system only practiced in the UK and treat patients as paying adults and free to chose who they wish to consult. If I need a nurse, I consult a nurse if I need a doctor then I exercise my right to see a doctor but I don't need all of these wasteful levels in between where communications break down like CHinese Whispers and the end person has no idea why you are consulting them. better to give them your own first hand report.


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  • GPs should be tending to the needs of their patients and A&E doctors should be dealing with emergencies they should not all simply be conveyors of information which the patients can more accurately relay themselves.

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  • Until the public vote for and are willing to pay for a decently funded NHS then the system will be designed to be based on clinical prioritisation, ie. triage. Particularly under Tory system where funds are ever decreasing.
    There aren't enough GP's to tend to the needs of the population as it now stands. ANP's (qualified) are vital to, and complement the current level of primary care service. Sometimes they do a better job (!).
    Last point, the 111 service needs more clinical input and less conflict of interest. Stop sending everyone to A&E and urgent care centres when they need non urgent GP appt.

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