Public Accounts Committee

Access to general practice in England inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Inquiry launched on 1 December 2015.

Scope of the inquiry

Accessing general practice is the first step for most patients in diagnosing and treating health problems. Good access to general practice reduces pressure on other parts of the NHS, particularly hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments. This helps the health system to make the best use of its resources. Research has estimated that in 2012-13, 5.8 million patients attended A&E or walk-in centres because they were unable to get an appointment or a convenient appointment in general practice. The NAO estimates that a typical consultation in general practice costs £21, whereas hospitals are paid £124 for a visit to A&E.

Improving access to general practice is a priority for the government. It has committed to recruiting 5,000 extra doctors working in general practice, and to ensuring that people have access to general practice from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days per week, by 2020. This inquiry looks at the demand for general practice, patient expectations and experience of accessing general practice, and whether staffing and capacity in general practice can meet those demands and expectations.

Latest evidence

  • 11 Jan 2016 - Access to general Practice in England - oral evidence | PDF version (PDF326 KB) HC 673 | Published 20 Jan 2016

    Evidence given by Prof Maureen Baker, Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners, and Neil Tester, Director of Policy and Communications, Healthwatch England; Dame Una O'Brien, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, and Rosamond Roughton, Director of NHS Commissioning, NHS England (at 4.30pm).

Next meeting(s)

There are currently no public meetings scheduled.


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