Telford MP Lucy Allan has today welcomed the Government’s Winter Access Fund, which will allow patients to attend GP appointments in person following many months of disruption caused by coronavirus.
GPs across England will be offer a total of £250 million under the plans agreed by the NHS and Department for Health and Social Care – if they agree to increase the number of patients they see face-to-face. The £250 million Winter Access Fund will assist practices in hiring more staff including locum GPs and physiotherapists.
This is conditional on GP surgeries improving performance and increasing the number of patients accessing an in-person appointment. Doctors must respect patients’ preferences for a face-to-face appointment, unless clinical reasons (such as having contracted covid) prevent a patient from attending. Many patients who have found it difficult to contact their practice or access any kind of appointment have had no option but to use A&E services instead.
Lucy has been a vocal campaigner for access to GP services across Telford and has warmly welcomed the announcement. GPs have contractual obligations to their patients. Despite some opposition from the BMA, the Government and NHS will be pressing ahead with the plans in order prioritise patient need. Data will be published showing the percentage of patients seen in person at each surgery to ensure that GPs are upholding their obligations to their patients.
Lucy Allan MP said:
“I am very grateful to the Secretary of State for recognising the struggle my constituents have had when attempting to contact their GP. £250 million will be allocated to those GPs who are willing to offer face-to-face appointments to patients who seek one.
A further £10m is being made available to improve telephone systems. This is vital. Patients in Telford have struggled to join the queue when trying to contact Teldoc. If the phone system does not work, then patients have no access to Primary care. This has serious patient safety implications. Where a GP practice operates a local monopoly there is nothing a patient can do to get access to care by alternative means, other than visit A&E.
The new Winter Access Fund will support GPs to improve performance. This will be hugely welcome in Telford. The Secretary of State has responded promptly to this growing problem and it a really positive step in getting GP access back to pre-pandemic levels of service.”
You can read the Government's plan below.