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Primary Care Staff Recruitment

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 14 June 2022

The Government’s commitment to deliver 50 million more general practice appointments is critical for improving access to primary care across the country. Our workforce are crucial for that, and we are well on track to deliver 26,000 more full-time primary care staff by March 2024, with more than 18,000 primary care staff already recruited since 2019.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that when it comes to accessing primary care services, the Government have given GPs the support and guidance that they need and that GPs must now make every effort to see our constituents face to face, which is what they expect? What more can be done to support GP practices to make their processes more efficient for patient access to test results and blood tests and for booking appointments?

I agree with my hon. Friend and am incredibly grateful, as she is, for the huge contribution of GPs during the pandemic in helping to deliver the largest vaccination programme that the NHS has ever seen. Because of the pandemic, we also provided record support to GPs that helped to cut bureaucracy, helped them to share their workload and helped clinicians to give even more support to patients.

We are starting to see the results of that, with face-to-face appointments going up—we would like to see them go up much further. We would also like to see increases in appointments, including for access to blood tests. My hon. Friend might know that yesterday we published our new data strategy, which sets out how, using the NHS app, we will give more people access to their health results.

The United States company Operose Health runs 70 GP surgeries across the country, including the Randolph Surgery in my constituency. Yesterday’s “Panorama” broadcast indicated serious concerns about its quality of service, staffing levels and patient safety. Since then, constituents of mine have approached me to reflect their concerns about the service. What steps is the Secretary of State taking now, urgently, to establish what has gone wrong? Will he meet MPs with those surgeries to discuss our concerns?

First, I will ensure the hon. Lady gets the meeting she requests. She will know that NHS GP services all have to meet the same requirements, the same regulations and the same standards across the country. Where patients are not getting that care and those standards are not being met, we expect local commissioners to take action.