We recognise that increased demand has had an impact on GP services. That is why we are investing at least £1.5 billion to create an additional 50 million GP appointments by 2024.
There is a clear failure to invest in critical infrastructure across the primary care estate, for example, in modernising in-patient mental health services and GP hubs. To make matters worse, Government bureaucracy is holding up capital funding allocations. My constituents deserve better community care and hospitals need relief, so when will the Government finally release the funding to build the facilities desperately needed in Bedford and Kempston?
We have literally just heard in this questions session from my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) about the investment the Government are making in infrastructure across the NHS. That is why we have also, alongside the investment we are making in primary care, invested in the new hospitals programme, as part of this Government’s commitment to the NHS estate.
Since the beginning of January, Gosport patients have learnt that one of our GP practices is threatened with closure, while another is about to merge with an already very subscribed group of practices. Partners are retiring, with no replacements. Will the Secretary of State confirm what he is doing to ensure that my constituents can access a GP? Will he please meet me to discuss this issue?
My hon. Friend raises an important point, and we are investing over a fifth more than in 2016, as part of our wider investment programme. I am very keen to work with her on the role of her ICB. It was set up operationally last summer, and its role is to commission primary care services for the community and to assess the needs of her Gosport constituents. I am very happy to work with her and her ICB on the issues she raises.
Hull has the second highest ratio of GPs to patients in the country. Even though GPs see 46 people a day on average, it is clear that demand for their services outstrips supply. Of course the Labour Government will have a plan to resolve this, but in the meantime will the Secretary of State look at giving women direct access to specialist nurses and services, such as endometriosis or menopause specialists, to prevent them from having to go via their GP each time they need renewed treatment and updated medication?
First, that is exactly what the women’s health strategy is doing through designing women’s health hubs. It is exactly why we are appointing a wider portfolio of roles into primary care. The hon. Lady says that Labour has a plan, but Labour’s plan is to divert £7 billion out of primary care property, which will not improve services for women and will actually impede the ability to deliver exactly the sort of services she is calling for.
Thornton Cleveleys will see a 17% increase in new patients registering for primary care in the next five years, exceeding the physical capacity. Cost-effective solutions have been found, but the obstacle is the integrated care board, which keeps changing its mind as to whether money is or is not available. The clock is ticking on the need for this new capacity. Will the primary care Minister meet me to resolve this impasse and get the ICB to sort its act out?