Deputy Prime Minister and Health Secretary Therese Coffey. (Photo: Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images)
Therese Coffey will call for a million volunteers to help bolster the NHS and social care this winter.
The health secretary will outline plans tomorrow to make it easier to book GP appointments, warning that the cold months will be “tough”.
She wants to ensure that patients who need an appointment can get one within two weeks – and those with the most urgent needs are seen the same day.
The deputy prime minister will call on the public to do their bit as part of a “national endeavour” to support the NHS and social care.
The government hopes that the one million volunteers who stepped up during the pandemic to support the NHS will come forward again.
HuffPost UK has asked the department for health for details about what the volunteers will be asked to do.
The government’s plans also include changing funding rules to recruit extra support staff so GPs can focus on treating patients – freeing up over one million appointments per year.
They will also improve the phone system to make it easier for patients to contact their GP surgeries and publish appointments data at a practice level.
Pharmacies will be asked to help ease pressures on GPs by supplying more medicines such as contraception without a prescription.
The DfH said this could free up to two million general practice appointments a year and take referrals from emergency care for minor illnesses such as a cough, headache or sore throat.
Coffey will say:“Our plan for patients will make it easier to get a general practice appointment and we will work tirelessly to deliver that, alongside supporting our hardworking GP teams.
“We know this winter will be tough and this is just the first step in our work to bolster our valued NHS and social care services so people can get the care they need.”
Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “I know how much patients value timely, convenient access to GPs and primary care, the front door to the NHS, which is why we are continuing to drive improvements, including new roles to better meet patients’ needs and new tech to make contacting your local surgery easier.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.