Your recent editorial 'GP access dispute reveals holes in Darzi's rushed report' did not reflect the significant improvements that have been made in access to GPs, writes health minister Ben Bradshaw
Nine out of 10 people can now see a GP within 48 hours, compared with only half in 1997. Patients also have a right to book ahead if that is more convenient.
But the public - particularly those working full-time and/or commuting - expect to be able to see their GP when it is convenient for them. There is also still an unacceptable gulf in health outcomes between areas with the most and least primary care clinicians.
It is these challenges that Ara Darzi addresses in his interim report.
It is not the case that work has not progressed on identifying the 25 per cent of primary care trusts with the greatest need for new GP services. Rather than tell the NHS which PCTs need more investment in primary care, we have been working closely with them to produce a set of criteria that will enable us to identify areas together.
The NHS has told us that numbers of primary care clinicians, health outcomes and patient satisfaction with access are all factors in determining areas with a need for increased primary care services. We intend to publish the results of this work shortly.
You also suggest expansion is simply about GP numbers. It's not - it is about bringing new and innovative primary care services into deprived areas with poor health outcomes.
Encouragingly, there is strong interest from all sectors in establishing new GP practices. Far from being rushed, these proposals are about listening to what patients and the public expect from GP services and working with the NHS and the profession to deliver it.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw