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The nation is set to go to the polls on December 12 for a rare winter General Election that pundits are saying will be crucial for the future of the country.

The Medical Defense Society is strictly neutral on political matters – we’re proud to represent GPs of any political persuasion – but we know that you’ll all be keen to see what the parties are proposing.

In a bid to help you to cut through the noise, we’ve laid out what the major UK-wide parties have said in their manifestos about GP services and their plans for the next five years.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party, led by ex London Mayor Boris Johnson, is bidding to earn a majority in Parliament, after governing with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland since 2017.

GPs should note:

The manifesto promises 6,000 more GPs and add 50 million extra GP appointments a year (a 15% increase). The party says its plan would involve upping the number of GPs in training by about 500 a year. In 2015, then health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised 5,000 more GPs by 2020. However, numbers have actually declined in the past four years.
It also adds: “We also want to make sure that doctors spend as much time as possible treating patients, so we will address the ‘taper problem’ in doctors’ pensions, which causes many to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills. Within our first 30 days, we will hold an urgent review, working with the British Medical Association and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to solve the problem.

If you wish to read the full manifesto, you can download it here.

Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn is looking to build on the party’s performance two years ago – and has set out a radical manifesto to increase public spending.

GPs should note that:

The party says, in general, it wants to increase NHS spending by 4.3% a year, abolish prescription charges and end ‘privatisation’.
The manifesto states: “To support our transition to community health care services, we will expand GP training places to provide resources for 27 million more appointments each year and ensure community pharmacy is supported.”

To read the Labour Party’s full manifesto, follow this link.

Liberal Democrats

Jo Swinson is leading the Liberal Democrats into the 2019 General Election and will hope to hold the balance of power.

For GPs, the manifesto states:

The party wants to: “End the GP shortfall by 2025 by both training more GPs and making greater appropriate use of nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists, and also phone or video appointments, where clinically suitable.”
The party also pledged to support GPs to ‘work with nurses, physiotherapists, mental health and other professionals’ to offer multi-disciplinary services and to improve out of hours and mobile appointments.

Read the full Liberal Democrat manifesto here.

Green Party

The Green Party will be wanting to build on its one MP, after securing more than two million votes at the recent European elections.

From a GP’s perspective, the party’s manifesto states:

NHS services to be planned and provided through Health Boards – and increase funding by at least £6 billion a year.
It also states: “Focus funding to enable the construction of new community health centres, bringing health services closer to people’s homes. These health centres will pioneer preventative healthcare, helping people live healthier lifestyles so that they are less likely to fall ill.”

Read the full manifesto for yourself here.

Brexit Party

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is standing in more than 300 seats across the country.

Its manifesto – which it calls a ‘contract’ – states:

A desire to ‘introduce 24-hour GP surgeries to relieve the strain in A&E departments’.
It also calls for ‘national debate’ on the NHS involving doctors, experts and the public, including a discussion on the ring-fending of the NHS budget and tax revenues that fund it.

Read the full document for yourself here.

Hopefully the above should help you to understand what the parties are saying about GP services as we approach polling day.

Keep an eye on the MDS site for news of any new policies or legislation that is introduced that impacts on GPs.