Damien Moore MP meets with Health Minister to discuss increasing the number of available GP appointments

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Damien Moore MP has met with the Health Minister responsible for Primary Care to discuss access to GP appointments, and to explore possible ways to increase patient self-referral.

Several constituents have raised in Mr. Moore’s weekly Friday surgery that they are struggling to access GP appointments. In one case, Mr. Moore was told that some constituents were asked to call their GP at 8am, only to be faced with a wait of several hours on hold. Mr. Moore has previously raised this issue in the Chamber in Parliament, asking in January [link] about the difficulty in accessing GP appointments over the phone, and in March [link] over GP appointment capacity limits, when the Minister agreed to meet with Mr. Moore.

These contributions led to a conversation with Specsavers, after which Mr. Moore approached the Minister to discuss suggestions for freeing up GP capacity and ultimately helping his constituents to access the appointments they need when they need them.

In his meeting with the Minister, Mr. Moore suggested that patient choice could be promoted by making all routine community patient services self-referral, thereby freeing-up GPs’ time by not using them as administrative gatekeepers, and allowing patients the freedom to refer themselves for the treatment they need.

Damien Moore, MP for Southport, said:

“Southport’s GPs do fantastic work providing front-line healthcare to our local community, and I pay tribute to the many that have gone above and beyond in their service to the public, particularly over the past few years.

“Unfortunately, many have to spend their precious and valuable time referring patients who could otherwise refer themselves. Patient self-referral models already exist in other areas of healthcare, but for hearing loss, the process remains stuck in the past, resulting in fewer GP appointments for those who genuinely need it.

“Alongside Specsavers, I raised this suggestion with the relevant Health Minister, who was very sympathetic to the initiative, and promised to look closely at it.

“I will continue working hard to address this issue and progress this initiative, so that everybody who needs care in Southport is able to get that care.”

Stephen McAndrew, Director of NHS Services, Specsavers, said:

“We were very grateful for the opportunity to share with the Minister our experience of offering patient self-referral into NHS community audiology services in some parts of England and the benefit this would offer to patients and GPs if this became the norm for audiology, and other routine community services, across the NHS.”