We all know the difference a good family doctor can make to our health and wellbeing. The doctor- patient relationship is crucial for us and for our families.
A national survey by NHS England shows that in Haringey and across London one in five patients has to wait at least 7 days in order to book an appointment to see their GP. This is above the national average of 16%.
As I have been out and about over the summer in Hornsey & Wood Green, people tell me they are generally happy with the care they receive from their GP but would like to see them more quickly when they need an appointment.
What do the doctors think? Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs says ‘There is a growing crisis in waiting times to see a GP across the country ... general practice is disintegrating before our very eyes’. The Royal College confirms that demand on general practice is 'soaring while their funding is plummeting' and that most GPs expect waiting times to get longer over the next 2 years. There is even an online petition on the Royal College website, which you can sign, to stand up for your local GP.
The government's top down reorganisation of the NHS promised that GPs would be the key to a more cost effective healthcare system. It makes sense that if people with poor health are seen promptly by health professionals, their health is likely to improve quickly. It will also stop more patients going to our overstretched A&E departments for treatement the should be having outside hospital.
But if people are struggling to see their GP then step one is not working. People need to be seen within 48 hours and that is Labour's pledge for next year's General Election. It will be funded by cutting back on wasteful contracting processes, which put public funding into the pockets of private companies at the cost of patient care. Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act.
We need to get back to the founding principles of the NHS. In 1945, our NHS was launched with a commitment to provide accessible medicine, regardless of income or which part of the country you live in. That's something worth fighting for.