The Conservatives have promised to build 100 new GP surgeries in England and boost the number of available appointments by allowing more treatments in the community if they win the election.

The party says it would also expand the number of treatments pharmacies can offer without people seeing their GP first.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the plan would make it easier for patients to get the care they need and help relieve pressure on hospitals.

Labour said the announcement was the “latest empty promise” from the Tories on health.

The Tories said they wanted to expand the Pharmacy First scheme, which was launched in January and allows people in England to go to their local pharmacy for seven common conditions, rather than their GP, as well as get a prescription for the oral contraceptive pill.

Under the party’s plans for the next parliament, pharmacies would also be able to offer contraceptive patches and injections, as well as treatment for more conditions, including acne and chest infections.

It said this would free up 20 million GP appointments once fully rolled out.

The party has also pledged to build 50 new Community Diagnostic Centres, which it said would deliver a further 2.5 million tests a year once scaled up.

The Tories said its plans – expected to costs £1bn per annum – would be paid for by cutting the number of NHS managers to pre-pandemic levels and halving management consultancy spend across government.

It said an overhaul of planning guidance would also help pay for 100 new GP surgeries and 150 surgery modernisations, by ensuring health gets a bigger proportion of contributions from housing developers.

Mr Sunak said: “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.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “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.”

The National Pharmacy Association said the plan to extend the pharmacy scheme was an “affordable way to cut waiting times”.

But the association’s chief executive, Paul Rees, said community pharmacies were currently “chronically underfunded” and more investment to was needed to prevent closures and the system being “irreparably damaged”.

The Conservatives said 98% of pharmacies had signed up to the scheme and those already involved were receiving more funding.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting accused the Conservatives of breaking their last manifesto promise to recruit more GPs.

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

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to tackle a “ticking time bomb” for the NHS with a funding boost for health checks.

The party’s manifesto will include a commitment to increase the Public Health Grant, which it says will help fund health checks for 40-74-year-olds, health visits for infants and their mothers, and wider access to blood pressure tests.

The grant provides funding to local authorities to spend on preventative services to improve public health.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper said the policy would reverse the “scandalous” cuts made by the Conservatives since 2015.

“It is time to recognise that it is far cheaper to prevent ill health than to treat it,” she said.

The party said £1bn of investment in the grants per year would be funded through a crackdown on tax evasion.

The Lib Dems have already announced plans to boost GP numbers by 8,000 and give people the legal right to see a GP within seven days.



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