Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain has today criticised the Health Secretary’s plans for GPs, declaring that they won’t tackle the fundamental problem of a lack of GPs in Bradford and won’t address the challenges faced by people struggling to obtain appointments.

The plans unveiled by the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid MP yesterday would introduce GP league tables and would allow surgeries to recruit temporary staff, backed by a one-time nationwide pot of £250 million of funding, and are aimed at encouraging GP practices which limited the number of patients in surgeries to limit the spread of COVID-19 in waiting rooms to start seeing patients face-to-face again.

However, Imran has said that the problems faced by patients go deeper than just being able to access a face-to-face appointment, as an increasing number of people have reported to him that they are unable to get any form of consultation within a reasonable time frame, with many having to wait days for even urgent appointments because of a lack of GPs and capacity, whether it be face-to-face, over the phone or online, and that these problems long predated the Coronavirus pandemic.

This lack of capacity in surgeries and low number of GPs to serve Bradford’s large population is demonstrated by the 2019 figures for Bradford City CCG, before the decision to merge the CCG with the less populated and more affluent Bradford District CCG and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG. These figures showed that Bradford City CCG, which served Bradford’s more deprived and densely populated inner-city region had 2,886 patients per fully qualified, full-time equivalent (FTE) GP, which was substantially higher than the median figure of 2,117 across all CCGs in England.

Imran has also criticised the Health Secretary’s plans, stating that GP surgeries and managers are unsure how to access these funds and that the £250m emergency winter rescue package won’t be provided over the long-term, only allowing surgeries to recruit temporary staff for the coming months, and that the plans will introduce further bureaucracy and red tape on GPs rather than cutting it back.

Speaking on the Health Secretary’s plans and GP shortages in Bradford, Imran said:

“Being able to get any appointment, not just a face-to-face appointment, has long been a challenge for someone living in Bradford because we have fewer GPs per person, and whilst the Health Secretary is right to focus his attention on GP practices which are often overlooked, his plans will do little to alleviate the problems faced by people here in Bradford

“Indeed, in Bradford’s inner-city areas there are close to 2,900 people for each full-time GP, which is far more than in any other area of the country despite our grave health inequalities, and this is having a devastating impact on people able to get treatment for even the most routine conditions, allowing them to get worse.

“The Government must patients first and no one should have to wait days for an appointment, so instead of introducing more red tape for GPs, the Government must do much more to get more full-time, permanent GPs into cities like Bradford, not just temporary locum staff which will see problems return when funding ends. If he doesn’t, then these plans will prove to be nothing more than a sticking plaster on a gaping wound, and Bradford’s patients will be left worse off than they are already.”

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