Biggleswade MP urges government to address pressure on GP surgeries during speech in House of Commons

Biggleswade's MP has urged the government to address access to GPs and the pressure on surgeries from new housing.

By Jo Robinson
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 2:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 3:00 pm

Richard Fuller spoke in the House of Commons last week (June 7), because his inbox had been "full of emails from constituents" about their difficulties booking appointments.

Reading one, he quoted: "My wife is 75 and in acute pain. Several days last week and yesterday she has been attempting to see a GP.

"She phones at 8am and eventually gets through some two hours later.

Richard Fuller MP.

"She is then told there are no appointments remaining that day, and that she should phone the next day. This same pattern is repeated day after day."

Mr Fuller explained that for the same period of 2014 to 2022, the total headcount of qualified GPs grew by 2.1 per cent nationally but fell by 2.2 per cent in North East Bedfordshire.

He also pointed out that housing growth in his constituency was "already three times the national average" and was "only going to get worse".

He said: "I ask the Department to look at North East Bedfordshire as a test case for our manifesto commitment on 'infrastructure first'; to go back over the past eight years, to identify lessons learned from the inability to keep pace in personnel, processes and facilities; and to map out what could have been done and what could now be done to improve the situation. I am asking for a specific test for my constituency for that historical analysis, and I hope the Minister will agree to that today."

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Replying, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Maria Caulfield, told Mr Fuller that the government has "a commitment to recruit 26,000 more healthcare professionals by 2023-24 in addition to the GPs" and that it was "working with surgeries and sharing best practice of what really works" in terms of cloud-based telephony systems.

Replying to whether North East Bedfordshire could be examined as a test case ahead of Mr Fuller's meeting with the Secretary of State in July, Ms Caulfield said: "I cannot commit 100 per cent to that being ready for my hon. Friend’s meeting, but we can certainly look at it."

She also stated that there would be a review around the future models of GP practice.

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