The parties are at odds over extended hours at GP surgeries. We've examined Labour's figures and the responses from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
"Some 600 fewer GP surgeries across England are open in the evening and at weekends compared to the time of the last election, new figures today show." - Labour Party press release, 7th April 2015
The published data is not sufficient for this claim to be made.
Labour are comparing statistics from 2009 on practices offering extended opening hours with HSCIC experimental statistics on NHS payments to GP practices in 2013/14, which were released in February 2015.
First, the figures are no longer produced in the same way as in 2009, meaning they might not be precisely comparable. For example, the HSCIC told us that the 2013/14 figures include health centres. It isn't clear whether the 2009 data does.
Second, the HSCIC also told us the more recent figures may not include all extended hours services.
The Conservative Party has criticised the figures on the grounds that they don't take the government's "Challenge Fund" into account:
"Labour do not take into account our GP access fund — which is helping millions of patients. […] early evidence shows this has helped reduce A&E attendances, and relieve pressure on GP surgeries" - Conservative Party press release
And the complaint was shared by the Liberal Democrats.
It's true that Labour's figures are for the 2013/14 financial year, before the fund became available. But those are the latest annual figures.
Evidence on the fund's performance isn't yet available. The 'early evidence' referred to by the Conservatives is based on figures provided by NHS England to Pulse in February 2015. A full analysis of the figures wasn't available, with NHS England telling Pulse there was "insufficient data to measure the success of the scheme". They also said that they "needed more time to gather the evidence to be able to 'demonstrate success'," although they added that early feedback on reducing A&E services was "encouraging".
The integrity of our elections is in danger, and we need your help
You’re probably here looking for facts. Thank you for that trust. But with the EU parliament elections on the way and more elections a possibility, we need to act now to make sure our elections are protected, before it’s too late.
Could you help protect our elections by becoming a Full Fact donor?
Misinformation isn’t new, but advancements in technology mean it can spread at an unprecedented scale. Our dangerously outdated election laws have not kept up with the digital age, putting our next elections at risk of abuse.
Currently, it’s possible for a candidate to run a thousand different political ads to win the same seat, promising something different to each group it targets. At the same time, there’s no law requiring those who publish online campaigns to disclose who they are or how they are funded. The opportunity for bad actors to manipulate election results is left wide open.
You may already know about our work to make public debate online more honest and transparent. Every day, we call out the most harmful misinformation on social media platforms when and where we see it. But right now, we’re urging the government to overhaul our election laws to make sure political campaigning is held to the same level of scrutiny online as it is offline.
This work all depends on the generosity of hundreds of people who all believe that for democracy to work, we need transparency. Our monthly donors help strengthen our voice, and show our politicians that this really matters. Would you consider joining them?
Become a donor today to make sure our elections are protected.