GP surgeries will face economic sanctions if they do not provide patients with adequate services if Labour come to power, according to the shadow health secretary.
Wes Streeting has told the NHS that the “like it or lump it” approach taken by UK health providers is not acceptable and Labour “will give back patients control over their own healthcare”.
This includes allowing people to see the doctor they want, and to choose whether they have a face-to-face or phone appointment – rather than it being dictated by the surgery.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Streeting said: “As well as giving patients the choice of how they see their GP, Labour will bring back the family doctor, so patients can see the same GP at each appointment if they choose to.
“GP practices will be provided with incentives to offer patients continuity of care so that more patients can see the same clinician each time.”
Sky News understands that funding will be redistributed from poorly performing surgeries to the ones which are providing a better service, making the policy cost neutral.
Mr Streeting acknowledged that more GPs are necessary to meet his party’s aims.
He said his party will double the number of medical school places to train “thousands” more community doctors every year.
And providing mental health support in “every school and community – alongside allowing self-referral for specialist appointments while expanding the role of pharmacists – will free up GPs to “offer the treatment only they can provide”.
Mr Streeting has previously clashed with British Medical Association – a union for medical workers – over his plans to reform or change the NHS.
In December, the shadow health secretary said he was “treated like a heretic” by the group.
He told Sky News at the end of last year: “Despite the fact that I announced the biggest expansion of NHS staff in history, because I had the temerity to say that we also should expect better service for patients in exchange for that investment – because I think it’s unacceptable that people have to wait on the phone at eight o’clock in the morning to get through to a GP – I have been treated like some kind of heretic by the BMA.
“I’m afraid I do understand the pressure doctors are under.
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“What I’m saying is if we are paying for investment in the NHS, as the next Labour government will, we have got to expect better results for patients. Ultimately, it’s my job to be the patients’ champion.”
In his Telegraph article, Mr Streeting said: “Labour will do things differently. More resources must be met by a better deal for patients.
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“The lesson of the last Labour government is that investment must come alongside reform if it is to deliver results for patients. We told GPs to guarantee appointments within two days, gave them the tools to do it, and they delivered.
“Just as only Nixon could go to China, only Labour can reform the NHS.”