The Conservatives will guarantee same-day GP appointments for over-75s if they win the upcoming general election.
In an interview with The Telegraph on Saturday, secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt said the party will enable same-day access by training 5,000 new GPs by 2020.
Chancellor George Osborne, said it would be financially viable due to a strong economy, increased efficiency, and £8 billion of additional funding.
NHS England’s Five Year Forward View details that £22 billion of the predicted £30 billion funding gap will be made up through efficiency and reform, which has already started.
All three major parties, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have pledged to stump up the missing £8 billion during the next parliament.
Osborne said: “We have achieved billions of pounds in efficiency savings, all of which went straight back into the frontline. The result is fewer managers and thousands more doctors and nurses to treat a record numbers of people.”
The funding is also planned to come from savings due to improvements in public health and prevention.
Responding to these proposals the British Medical Association’s (BMA) general practice committee chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul (above), agreed that care of older people was important but was wary of election promises “without clear plans as to how they would be funded and delivered”.
“Putting in place a simplistic age limit for services runs the risk of distorting clinical priorities. It cannot be right for a 76 year old with a minor ailment to get preferential care at the expense of a 70 year old with a more serious condition.
“There is also a question mark over whether GPs have the ability to deliver same day appointments when many GP practices are under intense pressure from rising workload and falling resources, and without the capacity to meet current demands,” he said. A BMA survey of 15,560 GPs found that 94% felt their workload was negatively impacting on the care they deliver.
“Promises of extra investment are encouraging, but must take into account that it takes five to eight years to train a new GP and at present many areas of the country are facing a shortage of GPs, with practices unable to fill GP vacancies,” added Nagpaul.