Labour has pledged to train thousands more GPs as it claimed nearly three million patients have seen their practice close down or merge in the past five years.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said GP practices are “shutting up shop across the country”, leaving people to “travel miles to be seen and GPs overburdened”.
According to figures obtained by the party through freedom of information (FOI) responses from NHS bodies in England, 2.8 million patients have experienced their practice closing down or merging in the past five years, forcing patients to find a new GP.
Under Labour’s plans, 15,000 doctors a year would be trained, and medical school places would be doubled.
Labour also pledged to bring back the family doctor and guarantee face-to-face appointments to all who want them, so patients can book appointments to see the doctor of their choice, in the manner they want.
Mr Streeting said: “Patients are finding it impossible to get a GP appointment when they need one, thanks to the Conservatives’ failure to train enough doctors.
“Practices are shutting up shop across the country, leaving people to travel miles to be seen, and GPs overburdened.
“Labour will train 15,000 doctors a year so patients can be seen on time again, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status.
“We will bring back the family doctor and ensure patients can easily book appointments to see the doctor they want, in the manner they choose.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’re making real progress in getting patients to see their GP quickly with almost two million more GP appointments delivered when compared to this time last year – that’s 100,000 more appointments each working day.
“We’re also boosting the GP workforce, with hundreds more doctors in general practice than last year, record numbers in training and we have almost reached our target of delivering 26,000 additional primary care staff to support GPs and patients, including pharmacists and physiotherapists.
“We will set out details of further support soon, through our primary care recovery plan and our long-term workforce plan.”