The new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has laid out plans to help improve patient access to GP appointments, which includes the accelerated rollout of cloud-based telephone systems. 

Thérèse Coffey, who was appointed health secretary in September 2022, will unveil ‘Our Plan for Patients’ on 22 September. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, it will build on the NHS winter plan and follows Coffey’s commitment to A, B, C and D priorities – ambulances, backlogs, care and doctors and dentists.

At the heart of it will be the health secretary’s expectation that everyone who needs one should get an appointment at a GP practice within two weeks – and that the patients with the most urgent needs should be seen within the same day.

This includes accelerating the roll-out of cloud-based telephone systems from November. The aim is to expand the number of phone lines which will make it easier for patients to get through to their general practice.

The plan will also include changing funding rules to recruit extra support staff so GPs can focus on treating patients. There will also be more information available for patients, with appointments data published at a practice level.

Coffey, who is also deputy Prime Minister, is expected to say: “I will put a laser-like focus on the needs of patients, making their priorities my priorities and being a champion for them on the issues that affect them most.

“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.”