The new Health Secretary on Thursday unveiled her plan to tackle NHS backlogs – including 7,000 more hospital beds available by this winter and a new £500million social fund.
However, Thérèse Coffey’s ‘ABCD’ proposals have been criticized by Labor as ‘Sesame Street’, with Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting saying: ‘The Conservatives’ promise to solve the crisis in the NHS is like the arsonist’s promise to put out the fire they are killing have started.” .
Laying out her plans to Parliament, Ms Coffey said anyone who needed a GP appointment should be able to get one within two weeks and said the Government would be looking at a new “ambulance assistance service” to deal with handover delays.
The measures Ms Coffey pledged were more 999 call workers, a new £500million redundancy fund for Adult Social Care and “intense work” to create more capacity in hospitals, “the equivalent of 7,000 extra beds by this winter.” “.
She said: “Patients are my top priority and I will be their advocate and focus on the issues that affect them or their loved ones the most.
“Most of the time, patients have a great experience, but we must not overplay the problems we face.
“We expect backlogs to rise before falling as more patients come in for diagnosis and treatment post-pandemic.”
Ms Coffey, who took up the job earlier this month, said she was “determined to tackle one of the most frustrating issues patients face” in getting an appointment with a doctor or dentist.
As well as previously shelved plans to set a two-week target for anyone who needs a GP appointment to get one, Ms Coffey said there would be a bigger role for community pharmacists to prescribe specific medicines at slots available for family doctor appointments.
She also pledged to tackle “dental deserts” where areas of the country cannot access dental care through the NHS, by streamlining routes into NHS dentistry for those trained abroad.
“These actions are the beginning, not the end, of our health and care ambitions,” she said.
“They will help us manage the pressures that health and care are facing this winter and next, and improve these vital services for the long term. My priorities are patients’ priorities and through a strong partnership with the NHS and local authorities I will strive to improve care and meet the expectations that the public has a right to have.”
But Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has said the NHS is facing the worst crisis in its history under Conservative Party rule.
He said: “She says patients can get a two-week appointment with their GP, her party has scrapped the two-day appointment guarantee that Labor put in place when we were in government and she has today Made it clear tomorrow that this is not the case. no guarantee at all – just an expectation.”
He added: “She has no plans to provide the doctors our NHS so desperately needs and despite her Sesame Street approach to politics with her ABCD plan – by the way, last time I ticked ‘S’ for Social Care, did she miss the ‘N’ for nurses – without a plan to deal with the staffing crisis I say to the Foreign Secretary: you have no plan for the NHS.”
Referring to a recent interview in which Ms Coffey was interrupted by an alarm clock, Mr Streeting said: “As Dr. Dre could say: Time for the next episode.”