Tory same-day appointment pledge for over-75s could distort clinical priorities

GP leaders have slammed 'simplistic' proposals from the Conservative party to guarantee same-day appointments to patients aged over 75.

GP appointment: Tory same-day guarantee for over-75s (Photo: Jim Varney)
GP appointment: Tory same-day guarantee for over-75s (Photo: Jim Varney)

Writing for the Guardian, chancellor George Osborne pledged the the Conservatives would protect the ‘precious’ NHS by funding the £8bn a year increase NHS England has said is required by 2020 to help plug a projected £30bn black hole.

Mr Osborne said: ‘With the funding and reforms that our NHS needs we can offer real improvements to the services people depend on, like guaranteeing over-75s same-day access to a GP.’

He added: ‘By supporting the most vulnerable we can improve their lives and ease the pressures on the NHS by reducing the number of unnecessary and often distressing visits to A&E. We can also guarantee that by 2020 everyone in the country will be able to access a GP at weekends and evenings. The NHS will finally abandon paper records, and the NHS and social care systems will work together.’

Poll: should over-75s have same-day appointments?

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said while it was important to ensure older people get the level of care they need, he was ‘wary’ about the proposals with no clear plans for 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.’

Dr Nagpaul said promises of extra investment were ‘encouraging’, but must take into account that it takes five to eight years to train a new GP and that many areas face shortages.

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