Conservatives pledge to create 50 million more appointments in GP surgeries

Fifty million more appointments in GP surgeries will be created every year under a Conservative majority government, the party has pledged.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed the additional appointments – to be in place by 2024-25 – would be made possible by recruiting 6,000 more doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

He says the additional numbers will be made up using a newly proposed "NHS visa" that will make it easier for doctors and nurses from around the world to work in the UK.

He also wants to encourage older doctors to stay in work longer because "too many have been retiring early".

The party wants to train 500 more GPs each year from 2021-22 – bringing the total in training to 4,000 – and estimates that by 2024-25 there will be an additional 3,000 doctors working and training in General Practice.

It says it will invest £2.5 billion over four years to increase the number of NHS staff and improve international recruitment and retention of domestic staff.

The Tories have also pledged to recruit 6,000 more non-GP workforce like nurses, physios and pharmacists, and ensure all patients can access digital booking systems and phone or online consultations.

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised a new “NHS visa” making it easier for doctors and nurses from around the world to work in the UK.

Mr Hancock said: “I love our NHS and am incredibly proud of the world-class care it offers patients.

“We all know that prevention is better than cure – and our GPs are at their heart the best way of helping us all stay out of hospital.

“I know that it is too often difficult to book an appointment with a GP. We all know the feeling of ringing a GP surgery first thing in the morning, holding on to get an appointment.

“We recognise our GPs are under increasing pressure, so we will put record funding into our GP surgeries, and to help everyone get the care they need.”

He added: “We will create 50 million extra appointments in GP surgeries each year, with the sort of easy online booking that we expect in other areas of our lives.

The Conservatives wants to train 500 more GPs each year from 2021-22. Credit: PA

“Only a majority Conservative government will get Brexit done and focus on improving our NHS.

“A vote for anyone else will result in in a gridlocked hung Parliament, with a weak and chaotic coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn who will waste next year on the chaos of another two referendums and cripple our public services with his plans for unlimited and uncontrolled immigration.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “You can’t trust the Tories with our NHS.

“They always make election promises which they fail to deliver on. Tory ministers promised us 5,000 extra GPs but in fact we have lost 1600 GPs under the Tories.

“After years of starving the NHS of cash, it’s got harder and harder to get a GP appointment under the Tories.

“Labour will invest more in family doctor services and train more GPs to deliver millions of extra appointments.”