Speaking in a parliamentary debate on the future of the NHS, Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain, declared that he is putting the City’s GPs on notice after many residents came to him to explain the difficulty in getting appointments.
During the debate, Imran attacked GPs over a number of cases that were brought to him by constituents. These included a case of an 82-year-old woman with multiple health issues who was told at A&E to see her GP, only for her GP to then refer her for an appointment two weeks later, despite the urgency of her case, as well as numerous others where patients were left waiting for extended periods on phones that were never answered by GP practices.
According to the NHS’s own statistics, the inner city of Bradford had one of the worst GP to patient ratios in 2019. Figures for the Bradford City CCG which served Bradford’s more deprived and densely populated inner-city region before the decision to merge the CCG with the less populated and more affluent CCGs showed that 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.
However, Imran stated during the debate that whilst fewer GPs caring for more patients explained the scarcity of appointments, it did not explain the poor service that patients in Bradford were reporting to him, leading Imran to warn GPs in Bradford that he was putting them on notice to improve the way in which they treated their patients when they were seeking appointments.
During the debate, Imran also called out the privatisation of the NHS, stating that whilst Bradford had seen off plans to privatise key hospital services by the backdoor in 2019, the threat of privatisation had not passed, with the Government’s controversial Health and Care Bill currently passing through parliament allowing private companies to sit on newly created Integrated Care Boards.
Speaking on his demand that Bradford’s GPs improve the level of service that they provide to their patients, Imran said:
“For far too long, even before the Coronavirus pandemic, getting an appointment with your GP has been far too difficult, with many people forced to wait days, weeks or even longer to see their doctor. This level of service is unacceptable anywhere, but it is particularly serious in Bradford where we already see grave health inequalities.
“GP practices need to be delivering a much better level of service to their patients and ensuring that those who need to see a doctor can do so, so I am putting those practices who keep patients on hold for hours on end, who fail to release appointments for weeks, and who refuse to see their patients, on notice to deliver the service that people deserve.”