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Primary care

Primary care services are the front door to the NHS and we work to tackle the increasing challenges people face with accessing primary care and receiving a good experience.

Our Stance

The current state of play for primary care services is not working for patients or for the primary care workforce. GP growth has stagnated for many years and fewer doctors are now looking after greater numbers of people, who often have higher levels of complex need. The public say it is harder to get an appointment and yet paradoxically appointment numbers are seeing record highs. 

Our members tell us that experiences are often worse for those who experience health inequalities. In 2021, 67% of D/deaf people reported there was no accessible method of contacting their GP, and, in the same year, almost 74 out of 100 GP surgeries mystery-shopped broke NHS England guidance by refusing to register a nomadic patient. 

Through insights gathered within our coalition of 200 health and care charities, we have identified nine proposals for the reform of primary care which will make a significant difference for people living with health conditions and disability, in particular people from groups that experience health inequalities. 

Implementation of these nine asks will ensure that primary care genuinely works for all. 

Our Work

We have done extensive member and sector engagement within the primary care policy space. 

In 2023, we launched three reports at our first dedicated conference on primary care which outlined our primary care vision, accessible communications and the work of multi-disciplinary teams.  

We shared our vision of the future of primary care with NHSE England ahead of the publication of the primary care recovery plan. We were delighted to see our overriding principle of improving the experience of primary care was central to the plan, and that that two elements of our Vision (revamping and modernising access, and triage), directly underpinned the Department of Health and Social Care’s document. 

We have used our knowledge and expertise to reach out to key stakeholders in NHS England, DHSC, Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), the BMA and Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) and with ministerial and shadow cabinet contacts.  

Our work on primary care has seen us brought into in-depth, senior level policy conversations with DHSC and NHS England on issues such as how GPs are contracted and incentivised, and the health inequalities seen within primary care. 

Primary care continues to be a central plank of our policy strategy, as we make it our mission to ensure a revamped plan for primary care works for all, regardless of background or health condition. 

Our Asks

  1. Implement our Vision: We ask the Government, ICSs and Primary Care networks to implement our nine key asks for the future of primary care. These have been developed in collaboration with our membership and signed and endorsed by over 50 of them.
  2. Nine actions: The vision covers nine themes across primary care; put choice, personalisation and equity at the centre of access; modernise and revamp communications; join up support for people with multiple long-term conditions; standardise diagnosis processes; make it easier to book longer appointments; improve implementation of holistic care; tackle the inverse care law; end wrongfully refused registrations; work in partnership with people, communities and voluntary sector organisations. 
  3. Include from the start: It is vital that the voice of the VCSE sector and those with lived experience are involved at the start of conversations about changes to the primary care offer, and National Voices stands ready to help.

Work with us

If this is a topic that is of interest to you and you would like to explore how we might contribute our insights and expertise to your work, we would love to hear from you. We offer consultancy and can design focus groups, roundtables, coaching and workshops to organisations who share our vision for more person-centred and equitable health and care. You can find out more here.

This page was last reviewed in December 2023.