Lib Dems promise access to the GP of the same name for the over-70s and the long-term ill

People over the age of 70 and those with long-term health problems would have access to the same GP for every appointment under plans unveiled by the Liberal Democrats, as polls show almost half of Britons rarely or never see their GP.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said the policy would need 8,000 extra GPs and would take at least four years to implement, costing an extra £1 billion a year, with the money coming from of taxing big banks.

Older people and people with long-term conditions, including mental health problems, appear to benefit most from access to the same GP, the Lib Dems said, pointing to research showing that people who have had the same GP for longer than that benefit most from access to the same GP. 15 years have one 25% lower chance of death than those with a new GP in the first year.

Polling commissioned by the party found that almost half (47%) of British adults who have visited a GP more than once in recent years say they rarely or never see the same doctor for every appointment, with almost one in five (18)%) say they never do that. The latter number rises to 27% among people over 65.

Davey said: “It is a scandal that under this government’s watch the family GP is becoming a thing of the past. Retirees are not getting the care they need because doctor’s offices are overwhelmed, causing wait times to spiral out of control. We need a return to the GP, starting with the elderly and those with long-term health problems.

“We want the named GP to return so that patients with complex healthcare needs see the same GP and don’t have to waste time going over the same details over and over again. This would provide essential personal care to those who need it most, helping people live healthier lives, independently in their own homes where possible.”

The worst region for people never seeing the same GP for every appointment is the South East of England (25%). The poll also found that almost half (46%) of adults say the wait to see the same GP is now significantly longer, rising to 55% of those over 65.

Davey told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “All the evidence shows that (having a named GP) improves their health outcomes; it actually saves the NHS money because people don’t go to hospital as often, so it’s a very sensible policy.

‘You’re right, others have promised it before – Jeremy Hunt (the former Health Secretary, now Health Secretary) did too – but I’m afraid what they implemented was a sort of tick-box exercise; it is not implemented. So many people complain that they don’t see the same doctor.”

Asked how it would be financed, he said: “We have said the tax cuts the Conservatives have given to the big banks since 2015 must be reversed. That is worth £4 billion a year, not just to pay for this part of our policy, but for many other parts of our healthcare policy.”