Millions of patients in England are forced to find a new doctor, as hundreds of GP practices close every year. In Southeast London alone, nearly 36,000 people have been forced to find a new GP.
Freedom of Information responses from NHS bodies reveal that 2.8 million patients have seen their practice close or merge in the past five years, forcing patients to find a new GP. People in rural areas are often left having to register with practices miles away from where they live.
There are 1,200 fewer GP practices today than in 2015, while more than 2,000 GPs have been cut at the same time. As a result, the number of patients per practice has gone up from 7,465 in 2015 to 9,722 in February, with each remaining practice having to take on an extra 2,257 patients on average. Each GP is having to look after an extra 348 patients today compared with 2015.
Almost one in four patients say they couldn’t get an appointment with a GP last time they tried to book one.
Labour is promising to train 15,000 doctors a year, so patients can get appointments when they need them. The party will double medical school places, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which allows wealthy people living and working in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.
Patients having to change GPs means they are less likely to see a doctor who knows their medical history, while stretched GPs can see fewer patients face-to-face today. Two in three patients rarely see the doctor of their choice, up from half in 2018, while 3 in 10 appointments are not face-to-face. Labour is pledging to bring back the family doctor and guarantee face-to-face appointments to all who want them, so patients can book appointments to see the doctor of their choice, in the manner they want.
Paul Bell, Lewisham Labour’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care said,
“Under the Conservatives the NHS is being run into the ground – and that’s having a huge impact on the daily lives of people across Lewisham, along with NHS staff who do amazing work.
“Thanks to the Tories there is a national doctor shortage, and that means practices are shutting up shop across the country, leaving people to travel miles to be seen, and GPs overburdened severely under pressure.
“After 13 years of failure all we get from the Conservatives is excuses, but Labour has a plan – we would train 15,000 doctors a year so patients can be seen on time again, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status. We will bring back the family doctor and ensure patients can easily book appointments to see the doctor they want, in the manner they choose.”