The party political spat over why Accident and Emergency centres are under pressure shows Labour at their worst. They have waded in to claim it is not the fault of the GP contacts they signed, but the results of more recent action. The truth is more complex.
There was a good case to cut GP hours to ensure doctors are in good form when working, and to give them a private life as well. There is also a good case to say a GP should take responsibility for named patients not in hospital on his or her list and be able to see them and help them as much as possible to ensure continuity of care. If the doctor seeing a patient knows that patient well the consultation can be both speedier and result in better action, than if the patient is seen each time by someone different. A new doctor for that patient has to read a bulky file, has to try to come to an independent judgement about the person and decide how to treat their condition with no prior knowledge.
The new contract also required doctor practices to put in good out of hours services which were easily accessible and gave the patients confidence they would be well treated. They also need to be authoritiative, so they can deal with any patient who has no need of out of hours emergency advice or treatment but requests it. Again this is easier if the doctors involved know the patients and their behaviour.
There is a danger that if people do not know their GP, or do not have confidence in the out of hours service, they will simply admit themselves directly to the A and E department of the local hospital. This can overload an A and E department with patients who do not need to be there. Do your out of hours services work well? Are you now more likely to go to A and E?