Liberal Democrats call for a return to "proper local health services"

29 Mar 2023

The Liberal Democrats have called for a return to proper local health services, after new figures revealed a fall in the number of GPs in Newcastle upon Tyne while patient numbers rise.

The analysis shows that there are now an eye-watering 2296 patients for every GP in Newcastle Gateshead. This is up by 17% since 2016.

At the last election, the Conservative party promised to recruit more GPs. However, today’s analysis reveals there are now almost 2,000 fewer fully qualified GPs in England compared to 2016.  The number of GPs has fallen by 28 GPs in Newcastle Gateshead over the same time period.

Separate figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have found that there are 547 fewer GP surgeries in England compared to 2019. This includes a fall of 185 GP surgeries in the North of England over that period.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey launched the party’s local election campaign this week with a pledge to recruit more GPs and give patients a legal right to see a GP within 7 days, or 24 hours in an emergency. This would be achieved through increasing training places for GPs, a programme to retain experienced doctors and staff, and launching a recruitment drive to encourage those who’ve left the NHS to return. 

The party is also calling for a rescue plan for social care, including setting a higher minimum wage for carers to tackle staff shortages and ensuring no one has to sell their home to pay for care. 

Dr Aidan King Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Newcastle upon Tyne said:

“We need a return to proper local health services. People in Newcastle upon Tyne just want strong local health services but years of Government neglect has caused a GP shortage crisis, leaving people unable to see their local doctor when they need to. 

“Liberal Democrats would guarantee people a right to a GP appointment within one week so people can get the care they deserve. Boosting GP numbers would not only help people get appointments, it would reduce pressure on our hospitals and paramedics, saving crucial time and money elsewhere in the NHS.

“This local election is a golden opportunity to send the Government a message they cannot ignore, and elect a strong local champion who will stand up for our health services.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP added:

“Patients are paying the price for years of neglect under this Conservative Government, who have broken their promise to recruit more GPs. It shows ministers are taking local communities for granted.

“It’s time these out-of-touch ministers made good on their promises to hire more doctors, cut waiting times and cleared the backlog.”