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SHADOW health secretary Jonathan Ashworth hit out today at “dismal” new NHS England figures showing that GP numbers have fallen yet again over the last few months of 2017.
The drop, which saw over 200 GPs lost between September and December last year, flies in the face of Prime Minister Theresa May’s claims that the NHS is better prepared than ever before.
And it sparks fears that the effect of this year’s NHS crisis may linger on well beyond the winter. Labour analysis suggests that nearly 150,000 patients have found themselves stuck waiting in ambulances for more than half an hour.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised at the 2015 general election to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020. The total has fallen by 720 since September 2015.
A hundred GPs were lost in north-east England alone over 2016-17, at the same time as registered patient numbers rose by over 18,000.
The British Medical Association has warned of “unsustainable workloads in an NHS that is understaffed and chronically underfunded,” which has had a “huge impact on [doctors’] morale and wellbeing, often leading to stress and burnout.”
Mr Ashworth said: “The sad reality is that this winter crisis was entirely predictable and avoidable, but Tory ministers have point-blank refused to give the NHS and social care the investment required.
“Unlike the Tories, Labour will give our NHS the funding it needs to ensure the health service remains a world class service all year round.”
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