Tories pledge to build 100 new GP surgeries paid for by slashing NHS management

More GP surgeries and diagnostic centres would be built under a future Conservative government funded by slashing the number of NHS managers, the Tories have said.

In their first major health offer of the General Election, the Conservatives have said they will bring more care services into the community.

Under the plans, the party would build 100 new GP surgeries and modernise a further 150.

Areas of the greatest need, especially those with large numbers of new homes, would be the focus of the proposal.

General Election campaign 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the launch of the Conservative campaign bus at Redcar Racecourse (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Conservatives would expand the Pharmacy First scheme, launched in England earlier this year, which allows patients to access some simple treatments via their pharmacy without having been to a GP first.

Treatment for more conditions, such as acne and chest infections, would be offered, which the Tories claim would free up 20 million GP appointments in total once fully scaled.

The party has also pledged to build a further 50 community diagnostic centres, which are aimed at giving patients access to diagnoses closer to home without having to visit large hospital sites.

The existing programme has delivered 160 centres so far.

The Conservatives claim their planned expansion of community care is fully costed, and will be paid for by cutting back the number of NHS managers to pre-pandemic levels and halving management consultancy spend across Government.

The new GP surgeries will also in part be paid for by an overhaul in planning guidance to ensure health gets a bigger share of developer contributions from new housing developments.

General Election campaign 2024
The GPs scheme will be paid for by cuts in NHS management, the Tories claim (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Rishi Sunak said: “The NHS is one of our most important national assets and the Conservatives are taking the long-term decisions to secure its future.

“As part of our clear plan we are investing in community services making it quicker, easier and more convenient for patients to receive the care they need and help to relieve pressure on hospital services.

“Only the Conservatives will take the bold action needed to secure the NHS’s future so that you can be safe in the knowledge that the NHS will be there for you and your family whenever you need it.”

The Health Secretary Victoria Atkins meanwhile added: “Pharmacies, GPs and Community Diagnostic Centres are the backbone of our NHS. Because of bold action we have taken, they are more accessible in more places for more people.

“I know just how important it is for people to have access to health services and treatment close to home – and Pharmacy First and our hundreds of new Community Diagnostic Centres have been a real success story so far. But we must do more.

“Our clear plan will continue to enable our brilliant pharmacists, GPs and CDCs to do what they do best: serving their local community and boosting capacity in our NHS. We will make the NHS faster, simpler and fairer for all.”

But Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “The Conservatives have broken their manifesto promise to recruit more GPs, instead cutting 1,700 since 2016 and closing down more than 450 GP practices.

“Patients are finding it harder than ever before to see a GP, so why would they trust this latest empty promise?

“The doctor can’t see you now, and it will only get worse if the Tories are given another five years.

“Labour will train thousands more GPs and cut the red tape that ties up GPs’ time, so we can bring back the family doctor.”