Managing Demand for GP Services

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Bim Afolami: Does the Secretary of State agree that this is not just about having more GPs, although we do need that, but about the way GP practices work, with managers using technology and other things to manage the demand for GP services? Will the Secretary of State further set out his plans in that regard?

Matthew Hancock: My hon. Friend is dead right. Pharmacies should be doing more to keep the pressure off GPs, because they are in the community and more accessible, and within a GP surgery not everything needs to be done by the GP. We are expanding the number of GPs by 6,000 over this Parliament, and increasing by 26,000 the number of other clinicians who work in primary care, supporting GPs. When someone goes to their primary care practice, they might see the GP, a practice nurse, a pharmacist, a physio or a geriatrician. The boundary that has existed since Lloyd George between primary and secondary care, where someone either sees a GP or goes to hospital, needs to become more porous so that we can have that care where it is right for patients.

My next point is that prevention is better than cure. Expanding primary care, allowing pharmacies to do more, growing our community teams—that is about driving prevention. My third priority is technology. That is not just because we stand at the cusp of a health tech revolution that has the potential to transform healthcare for the better, but because the first task is to drag the NHS out of the 20th century and into the 21st.

The next priority is infrastructure, much of which we have already started to discuss. Buildings have to be expanded and improved, and while we do that expansion, with upgrades to the 40 new hospitals, we will also repair the damage done by those terrible private finance initiative deals that have hamstrung hospitals—deals struck by the hon. Member for Leicester South and his friends: Mr PFI himself. When we hear from him about the challenges that the NHS faces, everyone should remember with every word he says that he was at the heart of the Treasury that was driving PFI, which has caused so many problems across our national health service. Our plan is for a more integrated NHS, with a culture that gives patients more control over their healthcare, and colleagues more control over their work.

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