Health secretary joined by NHS CEO on London GP surgery visit

The new health secretary Wes Streeting declared he will bring back the family doctor on a visit to a London GP surgery.

The Secretary of State was joined by NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard on a tour of the Abbey Medical Centre in St John’s Wood, London, where the pair met with and listened to staff.

He also committed to increasing the proportion of NHS resources going to primary care to ensure patients can get through the front door of the NHS and access the care they need.

Streeting said: “Patients are finding it harder than ever to see a GP. Patients can’t get through the front door of the NHS, so they aren’t getting the timely care they need.

“That’s no surprise, when GPs and primary care has been receiving a smaller proportion of NHS resources. I’m committed to reversing that.

“My first visit as Health Secretary was to a GP practice because when we said we want to shift the focus of the NHS out of hospitals and into the community, we meant it. I’m determined to make the NHS more of a neighbourhood health service, with more care available closer to people’s homes.

“Because if patients can’t get a GP appointment, then they end up in A&E, which is worse for them, and more expensive for the taxpayer.

“We are committed to bringing back the family doctor, so patients can see the same doctor each appointment, fixing the front door to the NHS.”

The Secretary of State has previously spoken about his plans to increase investment in primary care, including trialling Neighbourhood Health Centres, which will bring together existing community services under one roof.

NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “It was excellent to join the Secretary of State visiting Abbey Medical Centre this afternoon – it was powerful to hear directly from patients about the importance of GP and primary care services.

“Staff here also told us about the struggles they face with waiting lists but also how they are responding to emerging new health and care needs in their local community.

“GP teams are the bedrock of the NHS but right across the country, they are under huge pressure and working incredibly hard to deliver more appointments. 

"We know there is much more work to do to support them and to transform primary care services. We look forward to working with the government and colleagues in primary care to do that.”