Responding to the Labour Party’s assertion that five million patients were ‘denied’ a GP appointment in October 2022, Dr Kieran Sharrock, acting chair of GPC England at the BMA, said:
"Party leaders and ministers should know that a dwindling workforce is the real reason GPs cannot safely keep up with patient demand, so actively demonising GPs who are trying their best to deliver care is only making the problem worse, and encouraging more talented professionals to leave the NHS.
"Rhetoric from the Labour Party, and others, suggesting GPs are ‘denying’ patients care, or ‘preventing’ them from seeing a GP is disingenuous and inaccurate.
"In fact, GPs and their teams are working under exceptional circumstances, with limited resource and support. That they booked more than 32 million appointments in October is commendable. Across the country, demand dramatically outweighs capacity, and we know it can be difficult for patients to get the care they need, when they need it. We absolutely share that frustration, which is why practices often triage appointment requests to make sure patients can still see an appropriate healthcare professional, even though it might not be with a GP – for example, a practice nurse, or a physiotherapist based in the community.
"There is therefore, no point in the Labour Party criticising the current Government’s handling of the NHS if their take is just as ignorant about why the health service is struggling and what needs to be done to fix it. Changing this starts with using the right language, and stopping GPs – the cornerstone of the NHS - from feeling so undervalued."
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
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