Rishi Sunak heckled by GP over ‘disintegrating’ NHS at Tory stump speech

Rishi Sunak was heckled by a GP who claimed the NHS is “disintegrating” as she raised concerns about changes to funding available to recruit staff.

Dr Jane Lees-Millais, a Conservative member, warned there were 37,000 GPs across the UK angry with the Government about what she described as “constructive dismissal” because of funding changes.

The doctor interrupted the Prime Minister during a stump speech to Tory members at Melksham Town Football Club, Wiltshire.

As Mr Sunak said the UK was “on the right track”, due to economic growth and rising wages, the GP shouted: “But the NHS is disintegrating. I am one of 2,500 GPs in this country who are currently unemployed due to your policies.

“What are you going to do about that?

“37,000 GPs will not vote Conservative because of the constructive dismissal of general practice that is currently occurring.”

Mr Sunak responded: “My dad was a GP but my mum was also a pharmacist, so that is the household I grew up in.

“My parents dedicated themselves to primary care. I know a thing or two about it. I worked very hard at my mum’s pharmacy.”

Mr Sunak said he was supporting GPs with new investment in “digital telephony”.

The Prime Minister pointed to the Pharmacy First programme, which he said makes it “easier for people to see other primary care practitioners to get the treatments they need”, as another step taken to help GPs’ workload.

Dr Lees-Millais, who practices as a locum in Swindon and Wootton Bassett, told the PA news agency she had been a Conservative Party member for many years.

General Election campaign 2024
Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, was among those listening to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Jacob King/PA)

Asked why she felt the need to call out during the Prime Minister’s speech, she said: “Because I have been unable to get any work as a locum for three months, other than very occasional, having worked for 40 years in the NHS.”

She added: “You may not understand that at the moment GPs’ incomes have been massively, massively squeezed. They have had 1% to 4% increases in the expenditure that they need to pay for their staff.

“Now GPs have always been able to afford locums to cover them if they are going on holiday or if they want maternity leave, if they are disabled, if they need to see their own doctors, all the reasons one needs to see a GP.

“However, that payment has now been stopped by the Government. The Government will only now reimburse practices by paying for people who are not GPs to see patients.”

The doctor said the Government is “obsessed with access” but suggested this approach was not actually helping people to get their ailments treated.

Dr Jane Lees-Millais also told PA she saw “no reason” for not voting Conservative.

However, when asked if that was how she would cast her ballot on July 4, she said: “That is my privacy as a citizen, and there is a lot of time between now and July.”