Promises by David Cameron that everyone will have access to GP services seven days a week by 2020 are just a pipe dream, said UKIP health spokesman Louise Bours.

“And consequently like so many of their pledges it will just go up in smoke. It is as fanciful as his empty talk about repatriating powers from Brussels.

“We all know that many people in this country have problems getting a GP appointment at a time to suit them and not all practices are as flexible as required in today’s busy modern life.

“But there has been a decline in GP numbers and it is all very well talking about training another 5,000 family doctors, just how are they going to keep the overworked ones we already have and encourage new ones? 

“The overall situation has, of course, been greatly exacerbated by the deluge of immigrants over the last couple of decades, and through our membership of the EU and inadequate border controls we are unable to stem.

“Having surgeries open seven days a week and with evening appointments is a wonderful ideal and one that UKIP would also like to see become reality.  But first there needs to be a major overhaul to the whole NHS so patients fully benefit from available funding,” said Ms Bours, North West Euro-MP.

“Some Labour activists like to scurrilously claim that UKIP would introduce charges to see a GP. That is not true and we would ensure the NHS remains free at point of delivery and of need. A two tier national health system, where those with money can opt to pay for enhanced services will never be acceptable. 

“The NHS employs over 1.7 million people; over half of those have no clinical qualifications whatsoever.  Straight away it is possible to see where savings can be made and the money better used within the NHS, including improving GP services.

“A £50m pilot scheme was launched by the government last year in nine areas of England so practices could bid for money to open from 8 – 8 seven days a week.

“Only one in eight practices actually signed up and only just over a quarter of those 1,100 surgeries have currently got new projects up-and-running. Problems arise because the funding is solely for set-up costs and GPs have to cover the on-going costs from their existing already over-stretched budgets. Another ill-thought out scheme from this government of spin,” said Ms Bours.

“Also the pilot schemes that have got under way involve surgeries grouping together to share the responsibility with different practices taking it in turns to open. Patients prefer to see ‘their’ family doctor and practices grouping together in this way to cover the extra hours will make that less not more likely.

“The scheme is also intended to improve access via technologies such as skype and email. Using the internet to access appointments is marvellous but it is unfair – and potentially dangerous – to both the GP and patient for diagnosis to be made by Skype, phone or email.  It finds favour with neither and was dreamt up to hide the cracks in the over-burdened system.”

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