Miliband pledges 8,000 new GPs under a Labour government

A Labour government would recruit 8,000 new GPs as part of plans for a £2.5bn a year NHS fund, Ed Miliband has told the Labour party conference in Manchester.

Ed Miliband: GP access needs to improve
Ed Miliband: GP access needs to improve

A Labour government would also recruit 20,000 more nurses, 5,000 more careworkers and 3,000 more midwives, he said.

The new GPs and NHS staff would be paid for by a £2.5bn 'Time to Care Fund', to help address the problem of inadequate access to general practice, the Labour leader said.

The fund would be raised from a mansion tax on houses worth over £2m, a crackdown on tax avoidance, and a levy on tobacco firm profits.

Mr Miliband said: ‘We need to make sure there is an NHS there when we need it. Our plan for Britain’s future means we will create a world-class 21st century health and care service, because a hospital is only as good as the services in the community.

‘If people can’t get to see their GP, if they can’t get the care they need at home, they end up in hospital when that could have been avoided, that’s bad for them, and it costs billions of pounds.

'Transform the NHS'

‘Those services are creaking. One in four people wait a week or more for a GP appointment. We’ve seen the scandal of care visits restricted to just 15 minutes for the elderly.

‘And we know there are huge future pressures facing the NHS. We are going to have to transform the way the NHS works in the years ahead.

‘Conference, it is time to care about our NHS. So that doctors, nurses, care workers, midwives [are] able to spend proper time with us - not to be rushed off their feet.’

Responding to the speech, GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'A commitment of more GPs will be vital towards meeting the demands on general practice. However, we must first address the challenge of getting more doctors to choose to become GPs at a time of falling recruitment and increasing numbers retiring early.

'The figures speak for themselves. A fall of 15% in the number of doctors training as GPs last year, and 451 training places unfilled. We need to address the root causes of this if there is to be any prospect of increasing GP numbers.

'We are already working with NHS England on the best way to create the right environment to make general practice an attractive and rewarding career and whoever is in government next year needs to make this a priority.

'With the NHS facing a perfect storm of rising demand and a £30bn funding shortfall, patients and the public need to see a detailed, meaningful plan from politicians on how they will create a sustainable infrastructure and capacity in general practice to deliver on current and future needs.'

Announcement 'impressive'

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: 'This announcement is a clear and impressive response to the crisis currently engulfing general practice, and will be warmly welcomed by many GPs and practice nurses across the country.

'Today's announcement, if translated into action, would help to pull general practice back from the brink of disaster and pave the way for a revitalised and refreshed GP service. We are particularly pleased that this announcement is part of a wider package that includes the recruitment of more practice nurses, district nurses and home care.

'We welcome Mr Miliband’s announcement today and look forward to working with all the political parties to discuss how general practice can be properly funded to provide excellent patient care in the community, thereby alleviating pressure on our hospitals.'

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