The government could be required to commission an independent quarterly review of primary care services, including community pharmacy and general practice, under a new private members’ bill.
The Primary care services (report) Bill, proposed on 12 July by Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, would require the secretary of state to appoint an independent reviewer, who would assess the state of primary care services and present a quarterly report that would be laid before parliament.
The report would also include the reviewer’s assessment of any measures taken to improve primary care services.
Ms Cooper described primary care services as ‘in crisis’ when presenting the bill.
‘People cannot get a GP appointment when they need one, some pharmacies are closing, people are resorting to DIY dentistry, and waiting lists for mental health appointments are sky high,’ she said.
And she said that the government’s recent long-term workforce plan was ‘only partially funded and will do nothing to increase staff levels now’.
She added: ‘The bill seeks to force the government to come clean about the challenges facing primary care health services specifically, such as GPs and dentists, by appointing an independent reviewer to report on the state and condition of primary care services every three months so that we can hold the government’s feet to the fire on progress.’
Ms Cooper said that this ‘cannot come soon enough for patients’, as she shared examples of people struggling to access GP and dental services.
And she said that ‘community pharmacies are in crisis too’, describing how pharmacy closures were limiting access, particularly for those with disabilities.
‘This situation is completely unsustainable,’ she added.
The bill was presented by Liberal Democrats MPs Daisy Cooper, Wera Hobhouse, Tim Farron, Richard Foord and Munira Wilson.
The independent report proposed comes as the Health and Social Care Committee launches its inquiry into the ‘readiness’ of community pharmacy to meet future demand.