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At the end of January, Matthew Hancock, the Conservative government’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, claimed that Primary Care Networks (PCNs) were an “incredibly successful innovation” and that the government had a “whole-scale programme of work to improve access” for patients.
The comments were in response to Jon Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, who said that the government was “bungling” the general practitioners (GP) contracts through excessive “red tape.” Having implemented or acceded to decades of health cuts, Labour is cynically seeking to exploit widespread anger over a lack of access to GPs.
Hancock said he knew the “frustration many families feel” and touted the government programme as one that would resolve the issue. He claimed the government would recruit 6,000 more doctors. The empty character of the pledge is demonstrated by the fact that the government failed to hire 5,000 extra doctors by 2020 as previously promised.
The reality of the situation was shown last October, when the Mirror reported that 15 million patients had been left waiting at least a month to see a GP, during the 12 months preceding August 2019. A total of 55 million patients had to wait longer than a fortnight. Shortages of GP numbers are estimated as being at least 7,000.
Ever greater numbers are leaving the profession as a result of the immense strains produced by a decade of cutbacks by successive governments.
Hancock’s comments came barely two weeks after the Local Medical Committee (LMC) for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (BBO) declared the […]