LONDON, May 26 (UPI) -- Britain's health secretary says every primary care physician should be an advocate for their patients, instead of being the gateway to the healthcare system.
Jeremy Hunt, in a speech to the King's Fund, a think tank, said the concept of the family doctor had been lost, after being "fatally undermined" by changes introduced by the Labor Party.
Hunt said in the future, every general practitioner would have to take responsibility for care given their patients after their offices close for the day, The Daily Telegraph reported.
"We have allowed ourselves to lose sight of the concept of the family doctor -- the sense that GPs are there to be a champion for their patients rather than simply a gateway to the system," Hunt told the Telegraph.
Too many patients are now turning up at hospital emergency departments because they could not get care from their family doctor.
Those in need of medical care all too often find it impossible to get an appointment the next day at a doctor's office and same-day appointments may only be possible if you call at 8 a.m. sharp and are lucky, Hunt said.
Hunt said changes introduced by the Labor Party in 2004 allowed doctors to abandon responsibility for their patients when their officers were closed at night and on weekends, leaving care to another healthcare provider and this "fatally undermined" the personal link between doctor and patient.