Bridget Phillipson MP slams Prime Minister on falling GP numbers
Bridget Phillipson MP slams Prime Minister on falling GP numbers

Bridget Phillipson, the Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, has taken the Prime Minister to task over the dramatic fall in GP numbers in Sunderland.

Bridget raised the issue at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, pressing the PM on figures obtained through the House of Commons Library showing a 16% drop in GP numbers in Sunderland since 2015 – much higher than the national average drop of 5%.

Saying that GP services were “inadequate and getting worse” after a decade of Conservative government, Bridget asked the PM who should be held responsible, leading to Mr Johnson accepting “full responsibility” for the situation in his response.

The question comes on the back of Bridget’s campaigning work on GP numbers in the North East, having previously held a parliamentary debate on the subject and pressing ministers in the House of Commons chamber.

She was also an active supporter of the University of Sunderland’s bid to open a medical school, raising it in Parliament on several occasions. The Sunderland Medical School opened its doors to trainees in September 2019, and will focus on GP and psychiatric training.

Following PMQ’s, Bridget commented:

“Only a few weeks ago Boris Johnson came to Sunderland. If he’d spent his time out and about, speaking to local people, he’d have learnt for himself about the worsening state of our GP services.

Every week I hear from constituents who struggle to see their family doctor. They’re being let down as they simply cannot get an appointment for weeks on end, whether routine or urgent.

This is sadly understandable, given that the Tories have overseen a massive drop in GP numbers in Sunderland – at a rate much steeper than the national average.

They have been running our health service for a decade now. They have no excuses, which is why I called on the Prime Minister to acknowledge his party’s responsibility for this unacceptable situation.  

While I’m glad he accepted this, the usual Tory bluff about investing in our NHS won’t mean anything unless local people see improvements.

I’m concerned that the long-term government neglect of our area means it will take longer to get GP numbers back to where they need to be.

The key thing now is that we get more local GPs – urgently – so local people can finally see their doctor more quickly.

I won’t stop campaigning on this issue until all my constituents enjoy the access to healthcare they deserve.”

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