General practice issues at Party Conference 2022

On the 4th October, Health Secretary Therese Coffey made a speech to Conservative Party Conference. This speech repeated the pledges made in her parliamentary statement, which we summarised here.

On the 28th September, Shadow Health Secretary and Ilford North MP Wes Streeting made a speech to Labour Party Conference. 

In a wide-ranging but relatively short speech, Mr Streeting set out Labour’s assessment of the problems in the NHS and what they would do to improve it in government. 

At the outset, Mr Streeting asserted that, among other issues, “people are unable to see their GP”. He argued that the NHS must modernise or it “will become unsustainable” and that “without a workforce plan, everything else the government announces is a sticking plaster”. 

Labour would “double the number of medical training places and create an extra 10,000 nursing and midwifery placements every year”, with the party pledging there will be “more doctors, more nurses, lower waiting times, higher standards for patients”. 

There needs to be more focus on “prevention, early intervention and care in the community”, because when “people can’t see a GP they end up in A&E”.  To ensure this focus, “Labour would agree a 10 year plan with the NHS to shift the focus of healthcare out of the hospital and into the community”. 

Mr Streeting said that the key to delivering “better access to GPs” is recruiting more doctors, and that “patients deserve better than a 2 week wait to see a GP”. To improve access, Labour would “give patients the ability to book online, the opportunity to self-refer to specialist services and the choice to see someone face to face, on the phone, or via video link.” 

Labour’s changes would mean the end of “waiting on the phone at 8am to book an appointment with a GP” and the return of the “family doctor”. 

Several health-related events took place on both parties’ conference ‘fringe’, featuring Goverment health ministers, MPs, thinktank researchers and academics.

Conservative Party Conference

TitleHosted bySpeakers
On the Side of the Patient: What are the Conservative Party’s plans to improve the NHS?Policy ExchangeRobert Jenrick MP, Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Care
Putting People First: How can patients’ experience of the NHS and social care inform and improve its future?Onward & Engage BritainJames Sunderland MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department of Health and Social Care

Former Minister Helen Whately MP

How can health revitalise the economy?Institute for Public Policy ResearchMichael Gove MP, former Secretary of State

Lord Bethell, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care

Are good jobs the secret to good health?Policy Exchange & Health FoundationVictoria Prentis MP, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions
Creating Healthy Places: How can the Conservatives improve health across England? Policy ExchangeDr Caroline Johnson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health and Social Care

Labour Party Conference

TitleHosted bySpeakers
The long-term impacts of the pandemic on mental health and the case for universal careInstitute for Public Policy ResearchDr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Levelling up health: what is the role of devolved authorities in improving the nation’s health?Institute for Public Policy ResearchAndy Burnham, Former Health Secretary

Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham

Note: the Liberal Democrat Conference was cancelled because it feel inside the period of mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.