In October last year, the Government announced a plan to improve general practice capacity, backed up by £250 million of winter access funds to help GPs and their practices. That can be used to fund more sessions from existing staff, or indeed increase the physical premises at a practice. For my hon. Friend’s area, the Black Country and West Birmingham clinical commissioning group expects an award of £6.5 million from the winter access fund.
My constituents in West Bromwich East have been raising concerns with me about their ability to access face-to-face GP appointments at local surgeries. Given the significant £250 million winter funding package for general practice announced towards the end of last year, what assessment has the Minister made of whether that support is making a real difference on the ground?
I thank my hon. Friend, who is pushing me constantly to improve access for her constituents, but can I reassure her that the announcement, the funds and the support are making a difference? In November last year, there were on average 1.39 million general practice appointments per working day, compared with 1.31 million in November 2019, but crucially, 62.7% of those appointments were face to face, so this is really making a difference for patients.
A nurse wrote this week about working on covid wards during the height of the pandemic:
“There were no vaccines or treatments then and we worked for hours in full PPE to protect ourselves and try not to bring the virus home to our families. There were no after work drinks for us…It is clear that there was a culture inside Number 10 where even if rules were not technically broken, the spirit of the rules were, and this is completely unacceptable.”
The nurse is the Minister. Surely she must agree that the Prime Minister should now resign.