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Practice nurses require support to provide quicker appointments

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Practice nurses will need more support to fulfil Labour's pledge of quicker access to general practice appointments, the RCN said.

Labour party leader Ed Miliband announced that all patients would get an appointment within 48 hours if Labour were elected.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, said: 'To provide this level of access to practice, services would require a substantial investment, not only in GPs, but in the entire practice team. Practice nurses are already providing a significant proportion of general practice services and appointments, and many are already struggling to keep up with demand. They would need a great deal more support to enable them to further increase patient access.'

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Milliband added that those with the most 'urgent' problems would be guaranteed a same day consultation and that there would be up to three million extra appointments available to patients across England under the new plans. He said this would be made possible with £100 million of funding. This funding would come from 'getting rid of much of the spending on bureaucracy and competition, which is increasingly happening in the NHS.'

A Conservative spokesperson questioned the pledge, saying that this will put more pressure on general practice and leave healthcare professionals with less time with their patients.

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