“GP numbers – another pledge gone”

IT has been another week of navigating the NHS for me.

My son has now added conjunctivitis to his bingo card of childhood illness (for anyone keeping count, we have had bronchiolitis, periorbital cellulitis, and now conjunctivitis in just the last three months).

As ever, I am extremely grateful to the fabulous teams in my GP surgery, at Salisbury A&E and at Sarum Ward in the hospital.

I say it often, but these are incredibly people are working under extreme pressures that should not be required.

I was shocked to read this week that there are now an eye-watering 2,100 patients for every GP in the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board area.

This is up by 12% since 2016.

As we inch closer to the next General Election, I think it is important to remind ourselves of the promises made in 2019.

Four years ago, the Conservative party promised to recruit more GPs.

However, research suggests there are now almost 2,000 fewer fully qualified GPs in England compared to 2016 and further data has found that there are 547 fewer GP surgeries in England compared to 2019.

This includes a fall of 49 GP surgeries in the south west over that period.

In Salisbury and South Wiltshire, residents tell me they can no longer access GPs in Wilton Health Centre, Bemerton Heath, and Bishopdown Farm.

I am proud that the Liberal Democrats have pledged to recruit more GPs and enable patients to see a GP within seven days, or 24 hours in an emergency.

This would be achieved through increasing training places for GPs, a programme to retain experienced doctors and staff, and launching a recruitment drive to encourage those who’ve left the NHS to return.

This is in addition to our rescue plan for social care, including setting a higher minimum wage for carers to tackle staff shortages and ensuring no one has to sell their home to pay for care.

We need a return to proper local health services, which is what our community deserves.

But years of Conservative Government neglect has caused a GP shortage crisis, leaving people unable to see their local doctor when they need to.

The Conservatives have broken many promises in the last four years, but reneging on GP recruitment is one that impacts every single one of us.

People rely on their GP to keep their families safe and well. It is inexcusable to burden our hard-working doctors with more patients and stress.

Now, can my son fit another ‘itis’ in before his first birthday?

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