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Minister says GP waiting figures “not good enough”

17 October 2008

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Health minister Ben Bradshaw (pictured) has called for patients who think their GPs are not providing adequate access to contact their primary care trust.

He said that current performance levels are not good enough, and that everyone in England should be able to see a GP within 48 hours.

Mr Bradshaw highlighted that longer opening hours and new walk-in centres were making it easier for people to see a doctor and he dismissed reports that two-thirds of people were waiting longer than 48 hours to see a GP.

During a Commons debate on primary care, he said that a Healthcare Commission report had been misinterpreted and that 87% of people were seen within two days. However, he conceded: “While 87% is good, I don’t think it is good enough.

“Every patient should be able to see their GP within 48 hours and if anyone thinks their GP is not providing this service they should take it up with their primary care trust.”

But Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said the results of the Healthcare Commission’s tests were still alarming.

“Surely the commission report should give rise to considerable concern, and demonstrates how much further we still have to go,” Mr Lamb said.

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Healthcare Commission

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Is criticism of GP access within 48 hours fair? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Where and how has it suddenly become a requirement for practices to provide 48-hour access to a GP? This was a  requirement of the voluntary Access DES which ran until March 2008, but which the government decided not to continue this year, presumably because they thought we’d all done so well and it was no longer a priority!” – David, Leicestershire

“Absolute tosh as usual! The point is that most patients can see ‘a’ GP within 48 hours but their perception is completely different as they want to see a particular GP! This is one of the problems with relying on patients surveys – as we all know many people will interpret questions in many different ways.  Why can’t general practice just be left in peace for a few years.  Give the changes time to take effect before we change again.  Nothing is perfect in a system where supply always outstrips demand. We just want to get on and sort out local issues to the benefit of local patients. Leave us alone.” – Jo, Lincolnshire