The GSD hopes that the package of measures announced yesterday will decisively improve our community’s experience, interaction and most importantly access to General Practitioners at the PCC. This is not the first time that reforms are announced and promises are made with great fanfare. Previous attempts have failed miserably to deal with the core complaints which have continued. The GSD will carefully scrutinise and monitor the effectiveness of these new measures moving forward.

Shadow Minister for Health Elliott Phillips MP said:

“It is welcome that the Government and the new leadership at the GHA have again recognised that the appointment system which has been on its knees long before the pandemic needs to desperately change. The Opposition has long advocated for the increased use of technology as the solution to many of the complaints of the system and we welcome the measures that have been announced today. We will keep all changes under very close observation not least because we have been here before. The Government announced a new appointment system with great fanfare in 2018 ahead of the 2019 election. It promised then that they had listened to complaints. Minister Costa was quoted as saying that “the issue of how to telephone the PCC has been a recurrent theme and I have sought the advice of my medical advisers to solve this issue.” The complaints however continued and only 6 months ago the new Director General was promising further changes as part of the so-called Reset, Restart and Recover programme. Given the Government’s track record of making big fanfare announcements in this area that then fall flat people will be forgiven for waiting to see whether these big promises finally come to fruition.

It appears that Government has on the one hand increased the availability of appointments and publicly warned people about the responsible use of modified GHA resources. We take the view that the Government should have done much, much more about the dysfunctional appointment system given that complaints are not new and have been voiced for many years. For the Government to suggest to the public, including elderly and vulnerable people, who have been struggling to access appointments over a number of years, that they have not been acting responsibly is patronising and unhelpful. Whilst everyone will hope that GHA resources are used wisely and properly by the public, the Government and the leadership in the GHA need to do more work on the ground to restore trust and confidence in our health service and put in place other support systems through which patients can get advice if they wish to persuade people not to rely on the primary care system for all their initial needs.”