SUSTAINED Tory underfunding of the NHS has worsened access to GPs for millions of patients across England, Labour warned yesterday.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said the results of the latest GP Patient Survey revealed “astonishing neglect” from Prime Minister Theresa May, with GPs struggling to cope with rising demand.
Mr Ashworth called for urgent funding to give GPs the resources they need and said “the British public deserves better.”
The GP Patient Survey for England is published twice a year, in January and July, and gives figure for a range of measures including ease of getting a GP appointment and how long it takes to get an appointment.
Labour said the latest figures from NHS Digital show that access to GPs is significantly worse for millions of people due to “significant underfunding of the primary care sector by the Tories.”
The results show a 9 per cent rise in patients finding it “not very easy” or “not at all easy” to get through to their GP surgery by phone compared to five years ago.
And it showed a 10 per cent fall in patients finding it “very easy” or “fairly easy” to get through to their GP surgery by phone over the same period.
Millions of patients are finding it increasingly difficult to get a timely appointment at their GP surgery.
Over the past five years the number of patients unable to get an appointment to see or speak to someone has increased to 11 per cent — just under 6.5 million registered patients.
There has been a rise in complaints that people have to wait “far too long” for an appointment, with a 7 per cent increase in those waiting “a week or longer.”
Mr Ashworth said: “This research exemplifies just how hard it is becoming to see a GP in Tory Britain, with patients’ overall experience of their GP services getting drastically worse.
“Overworked and underfunded GPs are struggling to cope with rising needs from patients. Across the country GPs and practice staff are working to keep the service running in the face of astonishing neglect from Theresa May and her ministers.
“The British public deserves better. Labour would give GPs the resources and support they need to provide better and more accessible services for patients.”