Parliamentary update – February 2024

  • Latest news

Covers: Pharmacy First, dentistry recovery plan and statement that reducing GP numbers do not mean reducing quality of care.

Where quote marks appear the words have been directly transcribed from what was said in the Commons chamber or in a written response, where they are not used the content of what was said has been summarised for brevity.

Ministerial response: general practice closures

8 February | read in full

Neil Hudson (Con, Penrith and The Border) asked the Department of Health and Social Care about steps taken to support GP practices at the risk of closure. Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom (Con: South Northamptonshire), Minister of State for Health and Social Care responded, including:

  • “General Practices (GPs) close for a variety of reasons, including mergers or retirement. A reduction in GP numbers does not mean a reduction in the quality of care.”
  • Closure decisions are taken by local commissioners.
  • The rest of the response did not mention any measures taken by central government to assist practices.

Dentistry recovery plan

7 February | read in fullpolicy document

Rt Hon Victoria Atkins (Con: Louth and Horncastle) the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care launched the Government’s dentistry recovery plan: Faster, simpler and fairer: our plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry. Mrs Atkins then took questions in the House of Commons on the policy, none of which directly related to general practice, although she did make occasional comparisons with how incentives used to attract GPs could be applied to dentists.

Pharmacy first

31 January | read in full | press release

Dame Andrea Leadsom launched the Pharmacy First scheme with a statement and questions in the House of Commons.

  • Preet Kaur Gill (Lab, Birmingham Edgbaston) raised the fact not all pharmacies had access to GP Connect were having to email practices details of what they had prescribed rather than records updating automatically.
  • Dame Andrea responded by saying this was expect to be resolved within a few weeks.
  • Barry Sheerman (Lab, Huddersfield) said the statement was a distraction from problems in the health service and general practice, including highlighting pharmacy closures.
  • Dame Andrea responded by saying “The more deprived parts of England are much better served by community pharmacies than better-off areas are.”
  • Alistair Strathern (Lab, Mid Bedfordshire) raised shortages of GPs and pharmacists as an issue in delivering additional services in pharmacies and general practice being able to provide more appointments following the diversion of patients to pharmacies.
  • Dame Andrea referred him to the Government’s NHS long-term workforce plan