Access to GP services declining, Labour figures show
26 July 2012 16:46 in Medical Government/ NHS related news
NHS patients are finding it increasingly difficult to get an appointment with their local GP, according to new data issued by Labour.
The opposition party's NHS Check report reveals that the number of GP practices offering evening and weekend appointments has fallen by 5.7 percent in the last year, representing the first ever drop since the extended hours service was launched.
Moreover, there are now estimated to be 26 fewer non-hospital providers of emergency care compared to June 2011, which in turn is leading to a rise in the number of people visiting accident and emergency departments.
Labour accused the government of reneging on pre-election promises to expand access to GP services, while also criticising its controversial NHS reform plans.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "[The government's] decision to stop the national monitoring of GP opening hours sent out the wrong signal to the NHS and now patients are paying the price."
GPs are soon set to receive expanded powers to commission services on behalf of patients as part of the incoming Health and Social Care Act.
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